May 19, 2016 — Sprint has committed to deploying CommScope’s S1000 small cells in small and medium-sized business locations, enabling a turnkey wireless solution for both employees and visitors as part of Sprint’s network densification plan. The small and medium-size business market is ideal for small cells, according to Rod Gatehouse, CommScope vice president, product line management and marketing for small cells. Gatehouse was formerly with Airvana, which CommScope acquired in late 2015.
“DAS is the optimal solution in large public venues with multi-operator needs. As you come down from those larger spaces, it becomes more difficult for DAS from a cost standpoint and there is a large opportunity for small cells technology,” he said.
This is the first commercial LTE small cell plus Wi-Fi product for the small/medium size business, according to Gatehouse. Based upon Qualcomm FSM small cell and Qualcomm VIVE Wi-Fi chipsets, the S1000 supports both 2.5 GHz TD-LTE and 802.11ac dual-band, dual-concurrent Wi-Fi, allowing Sprint to provide managed Wi-Fi hotspot services to enterprises such as retail and restaurant chains.
“Large enterprises and public spaces usually have a separate Wi-Fi system from the cellular network, so it doesn’t make sense to deploy small cells with integrated Wi-Fi,” Gatehouse said, “but in the small- to medium-size business space, where you can cover the space with one or two
small cells, it lowers the total cost of ownership to integrate Wi-Fi and small cell technology into a single device that can be deployed by the enterprise.”
Making a hybrid Wi-Fi/LTE small cell had its challenges. Since the top of the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi band is adjacent to the bottom of Band Class 41 (2.6 GHz), particular attention had to be given to front-end RF filtering to avoid interference. And the Wi-Fi antenna had to be sufficiently isolated from the LTE antenna.
S1000 Features Plug-and Play Using SON
The S1000 can be self-installed through a hybrid self-organizing network (SON) approach that combines the automated provisioning function of CommScope’s Device Management System with the use of Qualcomm UltraSON technology in the device.
“The device’s plug and play capability uses self-optimizing network technology. The device communicates with CommScope’s Device Management System in the operator’s core and senses the RF environment,” he said. “This capability simplifies installation and optimizes coexistence with macro networks and neighboring small cells.”
Because of SON, the S1000 small cells provide an improved in-building cellular coverage with a low total cost of ownership, according to Gatehouse, which promotes mass distribution.
“Only in this way can you drive the volumes very high,” he said. “You have to have a very simple distribution model where you can send the units out to the customers and they can do the installation themselves.”
The system does scale, however, and CommScope will be deploying a 20-unit system in a hotel, which will require an integrator, according to Gatehouse.
“We are seeing that business model beginning to change, where an operator would allow a third-party to buy these devices, which operate on their spectrum, for deployment in an enterprise. But for right now, it is direct distribution from the operator to the customer,” he said.