By Don Bishop…
Small cells for permanent and for temporary use where no other cellular telecommunication service is available can be set up with the use of equipment from Gilat and Iridium Communications.
First, for permanent use, the CellEdge small cell from Gilat uses satellite backhaul to make it economical for service providers to extend 2G and 3G service to remote areas. The equipment minimizes the satellite space segment overhead by applying voice and data compression together with using satellite bandwidth allocation on demand. The combination reduces the satellite operating expense by 80 percent, compared with traditional satellite segment use. The equipment has such low power consumption that Gilat says it is suitable for solar-powered small cell sites.
“In the past, mobile operators have been faced with prohibitive expense levels for providing cellular connectivity to unserved rural areas with a population of as few as several thousand people,” said Erez Antebi, CEO of Gilat Satellite Networks, in a prepared statement. “Now with CellEdge, operators have a unique solution which can significantly reduce capital and operating expenditures, enabling them to provide cost-effective services to even the most outlying rural areas.”
Second, over at Iridium Communications, the company has what it calls a portable satellite hotspot that is, in effect, a small cell for use wherever commercial cellular service does not reach. The hotspot connects with any smartphone or tablet. It also creates a Wi-Fi zone for connecting computers with the Internet or for smartphones and tablets that have Wi-Fi capability.
As many as five smartphones can use one Iridium Go! hotspot to connect with a cellular network using the Iridium constellation of low-Earth-orbit satellites. Only one phone at a time can use an Iridium Go! portable satellite hotspot for a voice call, but Thompson said the hotspot can put email and text messages from multiple devices into a queue and send them out one after another, automatically.
In addition, Iridium Communications is licensing the capability to allow app developers to use the satellite network to tailor products to meet the needs of organizations or individuals. A developer program provides partners with access to platform application programming interfaces, developer guidelines and certification details that they need to have their applications featured on the Iridium Apps section of Iridium.com, linking to their app store locations.
Many companies are already working to have Iridium Go! apps built and available this year in the areas of maritime, aviation, outdoor recreation and enterprise solutions.
Joel Thompson, vice president of product management for Iridium Communications, told AGL Small Cell Link that apps made to work with Iridium Go! are designed to reduce pings. “Cell phones and tablets ping the terrestrial cellular network frequently,” he said. “To prevent cell phones and tablets from running up the bill for satellite time, apps made to work with Iridium Go! are written to avoid that.” He said apps for most phones and tablets can be downloaded from Iridium.com.
Don Bishop is executive editor and associate publisher at AGL Media Group. He can be reached at AGL Media Group