Despite the ongoing issues between LTE-U and Wi-Fi, LTE-U is continuing to gain ground. Ericsson, working with one of its partners showed it can be done. Ericsson and Telefonica have succeeded in putting on a live demo that included over the air (OTA) delivery on an LTE-U pico cell platform from Ericsson in the 5 GHz band. According to Ericsson, this demonstration, combined with the enhancements to its indoor radio portfolio, represent a milestone in the development of LTE-U.
While Ericsson is pretty gung-ho on LTE-U, not everyone is as sold on LTE-U as they are. There is still a fair amount of controversy over the coexistence of it with Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi Alliance is still working to develop a test plan that will ensure fair coexistence among LTE and Wi-Fi devices. But Ericsson is being a bit bully-ish about the Wi-Fi Alliance’s slow progress. Among other things, they told the FCC in a recent meeting, that the Alliance’s revisions to the test plan include tests that do not pertain to Wi-Fi coexistence and that other tests are not technology neutral.
Ericsson has a lot to lose if the LTE-U technology is forced to use some sort of listen-before-talk mechanism, rather than proximity solutions, so it doesn’t walk all over the Wi-Fi systems. Ericsson is going full steam with LTE-U, they have more than 20 LTE-U trials underway in a variety of places, including the United States. They have a vested interest in seeing it go the way it is.
I have to side with the Alliance on this one. LTE-U, as is, is kind of like the school yard bully – coming in late to a yard full of kids playing nice. If one is nearby, one is likely to get pummeled. LTE-U needs to learn to play nice, whatever it takes to modify the transmission scheme. If that happens, Ericsson is going to have to spend some money to fix it.
April 23, 2015 — Last issue I penned a missive on the state of small cells. I guess I am not the only one looking at the small cell landscape and wondering about the state of the platform. I recently came across some interesting metrics that make sense along the road to small cell deployment and making the small cell picture a bit clearer.
The first one being carrier small cells. Two things here are a given. Licensed spectrum will continue to be under the crunch gun, regardless of the evolution of the “Gs,” and macro cells will never be able to cover the world.
Extrapolating, small cells will be the great equalizer. In a recent statement, Verizon CTO Tony Melone, said small cell deployments will be an increasingly cost-effective way to add capacity while at the same time improving cell-edge performance and thus further increasing the value of the spectrum we hold. He went on to say that as small cell technology is improving and backhaul issues are worked out, small cells will move forward.
Next, enterprises are beginning to see the value in small cell deployments. That is significant because now they will put dollars into it. Building owners, hospitals, sports and entertainment venues are feeling the pressure to have ubiquitous wireless connectivity within the premises. And, once the small cell network is in place, MNOs are also seeing the value in connecting that network to theirs. It is a win-win for the enterprise and the MNO.
And, vendors are coming to the table with integrated solutions, not just products. That is a sure sign that they are seeing dollars. Here’s why; Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia have announced plans to merge next year. Nokia has acquired a strong small cell deployment capability in the United States with its recent purchase of SAC Wireless. The company’s program for carriers is called Services for HetNets.
Ericsson has launched Small Cells as a Service (SCaaS) to facilitate deployments for carriers. The network equipment giant wants to deploy small cell networks that will serve multiple carriers from a single location.
And Huawei is partnering with facilities owners that can provide location, power and backhaul for small cell deployments. The company calls its solution Crowd-sourcing Small Cells, and incorporates an open platform which supports third-party interfaces.
Next, the move to higher frequencies is in full swing (see the FCC short below). The higher the frequency, the shorter the wavelength, and the closer the cell. Can you see the obvious here? That is a sure recipe for densification of cells, and small ones are the only logical solution.
Plus, In ABI’s recent report on the small cell backhaul market pegs the dollars at $4 billion in five years. “We believe that 4G / LTE small cell solutions will again drive most of the microwave, millimeter wave and sub 6-GHz backhaul growth in metropolitan, urban and suburban areas with backhaul for 4G/LTE small cells growing at double-digit rates and surpassing 3G in this year,” Nick Marshall, research director at ABI Research, wrote.
Finally, someone told me that VoWi-Fi is going to impede the progress of the small cell segment. Hmmm….aren’t Wi-Fi cells small cells? I don’t really see how adding voice to them changes anything… really.
Ericsson has launched a modular all-in-one outdoor enclosure that houses and powers high-capacity mobile broadband sites. Built to complement its RBS 6000 portfolio, the maximum high-capacity configuration houses up to eight digital units, 18 radios and four mini-link hops in a footprint of less than 1.64 square feet or 27.5 inches by 27.5 inches.
The enclosure encapsulates multi-standard radio, transmission, power and climate equipment with savings potential for areas with mild to warm climates. The modular system minimizes footprint, installation time, maintenance and cost. It can be upgraded to fit specific site needs, using tailor-made configurations. The enclosure can also be used as a main unit in a main remote configuration using up to 16 internally installed digital units and up to 18 remote radio units, or a combination of macro and main-remote. www.ericsson.com
LEDs and small cells have come together in a cutting-edge, yet commonplace, component of everyday city life: streetlights. Two technology giants, Ericsson and Philips, are creating the next generation of energy-efficient street lighting, which also provides connections to wireless networks.
The combo light pole/small cell is the cornerstone of the “networked society,” according to Cecilia de Leeuw, product line site, Ericsson.
“We are turning the infrastructure of the city into a digital device,” de Leeuw said. “You can use the pole for powering your electric car, for example, or embed sensors into the pole, as well as connecting your smart phone or other digital device. There are a lot of things you can do going forward.”
The connected lighting solution, known as Zero Site, integrates telecom equipment into light poles enabling carriers to stealthily deploy small cells in an urban setting. In a lighting-as-a-service model, the municipality will be able to offer space within its connected lighting poles to network service providers for mobile broadband infrastructure. Carriers, working with Ericsson, will be able to rent space in the poles.
The small cells as a service model accelerates the payback time for city infrastructure by making the up-front costs of installing and managing the systems more affordable. Additionally, the city can see energy savings of up to 70 percent using the Philips LED street lighting.
“We are offering lighting as a service that scales with a city’s needs and enables city officials to offer residents a more connected, energy-efficient and safer urban environment, while preserving existing budgets and resources to improve the livability of their city,” Frans van Houten, president and CEO of Philips, said in a statement.
After a lot of talk about what constituted a small cell, OEMs clearly gave the matter more attention in 2013. Through acquisitions, alliances and new product announcements, vendors began to flesh out the future of small cell networks. Here are some of the highlights from the last 12 months.
Cisco Confirms Small Cell RAN Strategy
In April, Cisco left no doubt of its intention to be a player in the small cell RAN space, with the purchase of Ubiquisys, a U.K.-based intelligent small-cell software provider. The Ubiquisys acquisition, valued at $300 million, followed the purchases of Intucell and BroadHop in January of this year, and the November 2012 acquisition of Cariden. Ubiquisys had helped develop the 3G small cell debuted by Cisco earlier this year. Cisco is now attacking the mobility market with an end-to-end product portfolio that includes integrated, licensed and unlicensed small cell solutions, which are coupled with SON and backhaul.
Alcatel-Lucent, Qualcomm to Develop Next-Gen Small Cells
As it struggled to survive in 2013, Alcatel-Lucent made the decision to specialize in ultra-broadband wireless access technology in July. Then the vendor that kicked off all of the small cell buzz in 2011 with its lightRadio cube announced its collaboration with Qualcomm on small cell base stations that enhance 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi connectivity in residential and enterprise environments. The two companies plan to jointly invest in a strategic R&D program to develop the next generation of Alcatel-Lucent lightRadio small cell products featuring Qualcomm Technologies’ FSM9900 family of small cell chipsets.
Ericsson Takes the Plunge into Small Cell Market
Telecom giant Ericsson launched a minimalist small cell radio late in September, which will provide indoor coverage that mirrors the functionality of the outdoor cellular infrastructure, according to Johan Wibergh, head of networks and executive vice president. The disk-shaped small cell, which is small enough to fit a person’s hand, is called Ericsson Radio Dot System.
The radio fills the gap between pico/femtocells and distributed antenna systems, according to Wibergh. Perhaps the most important goal for small cell technology is the functional parity between the indoor wireless systems and the macrocellular network, Wibergh said.
“If you want to have seamless connectivity, you need the same functionality indoors, so you need to use the same software everywhere,” he said. The product is expected to be commercially available in late 2014.
Industry’s First Dual-Mode Small Cell Unveiled
The increasing wireless industry focus on indoor spaces is opening the door for smaller OEMs to compete with new small-cell technologies. Early in November, scrappy SpiderCloud Wireless introduced a dual-mode small cell, the SCRN-310, which is targeted at the enterprise market. The radio node, which simultaneously offers UMTS and LTE service, combines an integrated 3G/LTE baseband system on a chip from Broadcom with SpiderCloud’s software.
“The in-building wireless market is the next frontier. That’s where data traffic happens, and the variety of building types and enterprise types will create a very dynamic market,” said Joe Madden, principal analyst, Mobile Experts. “Even better, because the indoor environment does not need the same kind of mobility, new competitors like SpiderCloud have an opportunity to beat the major OEMs by offering a more tailored enterprise solution.”