by Ashutosh Vasudeva, Sr. Network Engineer
What is NDAC?
Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (NDAC) is an industrial grade, low latency, high bandwidth, reliable private LTE (pLTE) network. Nokia defines it as “…a high-performance, end-to-end private wireless networking and edge computing platform designed to meet the mission-critical needs of asset-intensive industries, governments, cities, and businesses” (Nokia n.d.).
When it comes to implementing the design and deployment of a pLTE network in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service, there are various tools you can use for a successful launch. NDAC has been proven to be beneficial in pLTE projects and efficiently meets most asset-heavy industry needs.
Network Design & Deploy
Any wireless network design, whether it be indoor/outdoor WiFi, Point to Point, Point to Multipoint microwave network, or a private LTE network, should meet some general criteria to be considered successful, such as the ones listed below.
- Provide adequate coverage and capacity for the required coverage area
- The network performance is as expected
- It is deployed and delivered in ample time
Coverage and capacity are the most important parameters in designing any pLTE network as these will determine the number of access points/eNodeBs that are necessary. As part of the initial discovery and site survey, one should determine if the coverage area(s) are indoor, outdoor, or both. Once a coverage area is defined, identifying access point locations would be the next step.
Probable/proposed access point locations are centrally located in the coverage area for easy accessibility for deployment and maintenance purposes. It is pertinent to have 24×7 110VAC power or another compatible power source at the proposed locations for seamless functionality.
It is equally important to identify a location for the NDAC edge hardware and network connections needed between the NDAC edge and customer network. Both indoor and outdoor networks have their respective design challenges.
In the case of an outdoor network, an engineer needs to account for terrain elevation changes in the coverage area and obstructions in the path. Understanding the project’s terrain will help determine the heights and tilts for the radios/antennas. Inaccurate placement in height and tilt values can cause inadequate coverage. Pathway obstructions should be determined during the initial site survey, as they will be useful in deciding propagation losses and predicted network coverage.
In the case of the indoor network, engineers should start with the building and floor layout to determine the potential mounting locations and their heights. Just like the outdoor design analyzing potential obstructions is critical for a successful design. Either as part of the site survey or customer questionnaire, engineers should determine the various wall material types to not impede the project. Along with this, identifying the location of the atriums, stairwells, and elevator shafts also aid the design process.
It is pertinent for a design engineer to determine network capacity requirements. To do so an engineer should gather the following information:
- Total number users on the network and percent of concurrently active users
- The different applications which will be used on the network, e.g. web browsing, barcode scanning, Microsoft teams audio/video calls
- Number of network video cameras and the bandwidth requirements for the cameras, to be supported by the pLTE network
These capacity requirements will help determine pLTE access point density and network design parameters like carrier aggregation. Also, overall network capacity is one of the parameters used to select the appropriate NDAC edge server.
RF Planning & Design Tools
Design tools play a critical role in producing a good design. Every long-lasting design can start with freeware such as Google Earth; however, some may require more sophisticated tools. There are various software options available for RF planning and design, such as Planet, Nokia Network Planner, Atoll, EDX Signal Pro, and iBwave. When selecting an outdoor design tool, it is essential to choose software that takes both the terrain and clutter into account. Here at Scientel Solutions, we use EDX Signal Pro and EDX LTE modules for our NDAC design. Signal Pro is a powerful tool with a suite of over 20 propagation models from Hata/Okumura, Cost231 to 2D/3D ray tracing. Signal Pro takes both the terrain and elevation data as well as the clutter into account. EDX defines the clutter types based on the land use types defined by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). To get a much more accurate prediction, we purchase high-resolution terrain and clutter data for our designs.
When it comes to designing and implementing an NDAC design, many components must be taken into consideration. Through meticulous planning, thorough analysis, site surveys, and state of art planning software, a successful design and deployment can be produced seamlessly. At Scientel, we have many experienced RF Engineers, including myself, CPIs, construction managers, and RF and NOC technicians who are fully certified in NDAC in their related realms of expertise. Our Engineers and construction managers have been conducting RF site surveys and designs for NDAC systems all over the United States, from robotics factories to oil refineries to large nuclear power stations.
(n.d.) Nokia Digital Automation Cloud | Nokia. Retrieved May 24, 2022, from