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LTE Gets Small with New Access Point

Responding to the carriers’ rush to deploy LTE, ip.access has begun shipping an LTE version of its E-100 dual-mode access point to five customers for laboratory and field trials, a milestone toward full commercial deployment.
The manufacturer, which passed the half a million mark for 3G access points last year, said it has accelerated work on the access point because of strong interest expressed by customers.

“Indeed, our commitment to increased R&D into understanding and delivering on all the end-to-end requirements of the developing small cell network layer – from access points to network gateways and management systems – is now paying dividends; gaining recognition and support from network operators, system integrators, our partners and the industry in general,” said Simon Brown, company CEO, in a press release.

The E-100 is a small cell access point targeted for use in enterprises and public indoor environments. The device will provide simultaneous 4G and 3G mobile phone signals with data speeds of up to 150 Mbps and 42 Mbps, respectively, and will also be able to support Wi-Fi as an optional module.

“Small cells will have a vital role to play in delivering LTE’s promise of high-speed data for the mass-market and the E-100 will allow operators to quickly deploy that capacity exactly where it is needed,” said Nick Johnson, ip.access founder and CTO.

The E-100 will be integrated into ip.access’ nanoConverge end-to-end small-cell solution architecture, allowing operators to deploy the E-100 alongside the company’s existing 3G small cells using the same gateways and network management system.

Elsewhere, Korea Telecom announced the development of a sub-miniature base station capable of handling LTE service at this year’s Mobile World Congress. KT supervised the R&D project that was carried out jointly with Juni, Mindspeed and Radisys. Sprint announced this month that it will deploy Alcatel-Lucent’s lightRadio Metro Cells as part of its well-publicized Network Vision, which will feature improved 3G and 4G LTE. Ubee-AirWalk plans to offer a LTE line of microcells, picocells and femtocells based on its flat all-IP architecture, which will complement its existing CDMA product line.

Although there have been a number of announcements this year about LTE small cell development, the technology is still a nascent stage, Seth Buechley, president, SOLiD Technologies told DAS Bulletin.

“I think we are in the early beta stage of LTE small cell introductions,” he said. “They are coming, but we have not gotten our hands on the hardware, yet.”

July/August 2012: Tower Market Report

HUBER+SUHNER now leading supplier for LTE installation systems in North America

July 5, 2012

The upgrade of mobile communication platforms to the fourth generation transmission standard, Long Term Evolution (LTE), is in full swing in North America. Major network operators in the USA and Canada have already launched their first broadband networks and will continue to roll out tens of thousands of mobile communication antennas over the coming months and years. Most operators rely on the latest solutions from HUBER+SUHNER – since January 2011, the company has been awarded tenders worth in excess of USD 100 million, which will become effective over the coming years.

Sprint, T-Mobile (USA), Bell Mobility, SaskTel and Telus (Canada) are telephone companies with 10 to 40 million subscribers each. They all want to guarantee their customers the fastest possible connections and are therefore upgrading their networks to the next-generation LTE standard at a record pace. T-Mobile alone, for example, will upgrade over 14,000 mobile antenna masts in the USA using HUBER+SUHNER solutions over the next 12 months, and Sprint plans to upgrade around 15,000 sites within three years. Several smaller mobile operators in the USA have also decided to expand their infrastructure to the fourth generation transmission standard using technology from Switzerland.

Leading FTTA technology
To ensure that their mobile communication networks are converted quickly and cost effectively, the North American phone giants and their infrastructure vendors like Ericsson or Nokia Siemens Network are relying on the most recent FTTA (Fiber to the Antenna) system solutions from the Swiss company HUBER+SUHNER. In FTTA technology, the send-receive electronics are installed near the antennas on the mast (remote radio heads – RRH). In previous installations, the send-receive electronics were housed in cabinets on the ground. FTTA technology therefore requires that RRHs be supplied with data as well as power. The “MASTERLINE extreme hybrid” cable systems combine multiple fiber optic and power cables. The Swiss systems therefore offer high-speed data transfer together with quick and easy installation. HUBER+SUHNER is currently the only company worldwide offering such a wide range of solutions for this rapidly growing market.

Radio frequency components
The Fiber Optics Division is not the only area at the company that will benefit from the large orders from North America. The Radio Frequency Division will deliver a very high number of jumper cables over the coming months to North America. They transmit radio frequency signals between the remote radio heads and mobile communication antennas. For the network upgrade this division also offers components that protect the sensitive electronics from power surges during lightning strikes and its so-called Smart DC Kits, developed to re-use installed radio frequency cables for supplying power to the remote radio heads.

The upgrade of mobile networks will take up speed across the world over the coming years and offer HUBER+SUHNER additional business opportunities. The Swiss company is already developing next-generation FTTA solutions, which will enable an even faster and more cost effective expansion and thereby underline the company’s position as a technological leader in the market of Fiber to the Antenna installations.

LTE Networks March Forward, But Throughput May Lag

Having seen its WiMAX network go the way of Sony’s BetaMAX, Sprint has turned on its LTE network, known as Network Vision, in 15 cities in Georgia, Kansas, Missouri and Texas. The initial deployment covers users in the Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City and San Antonio markets.

Sprint plans to launch additional LTE markets in the second half of 2012 with the completion of the nationwide network slated for the end of 2013. Along with the 4G rollout, Sprint promised the deployment of an “all-new enhanced” 3G network covering 250 million people across nation.

Neal Gompa of the Extreme Tech web site raises questions about whether Sprint’s Network Vision will produce 4G speeds because of backhaul and spectrum limitations (5 megahertz downlink and 5 megahertz uplink).  But help is on the way. The carrier plans to use Clearwire’s 2500 MHz service, which will launch at 5,000 TD-LTE cell sites in June 2013, and it will deploy LTE on its 800 MHz (formerly iDEN) network in 2014.

“Nationwide, Sprint [has a] throughput cap, as well as a capacity cap. However, it can be partially defeated by building a denser infrastructure,” Gompa wrote. “Sprint is also likely using relatively poor backhaul compared to AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. Deploying LTE without improving the backhaul will result in speeds that most people commonly associate with 3G. Indeed, it compares only slightly favorably to AT&T’s HSPA service.”

While Sprint grabbed the headlines with its LTE rollout, Verizon Wireless continued its full-on assault making its LTE network available in 33 additional markets in July.

Verizon Wireless’ July launches will bring its total number of markets covered to 337.  The 33 additional markets include smaller cities, such as El Dorado/Magnolia and Russellville, Ark.; New London County, Conn.; Fort Pierce and Melbourne/Titusville, Fla.; and Columbus and Rome, Ga. The company said it is on track to cover more than 400 U.S. markets by the end of 2012.

Also in July, the company expanded its 4G coverage in 32 existing LTE markets, including Mobile, Ala.; Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, Calif.; Washington, D.C.; and Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Sarasota/Bradenton, Fla.

Meanwhile, AT&T has added LTE service in several markets in 2012 and is now live in 47, reaching more than 260 million people.

“AT&T might be playing catch-up with Verizon, but with more than 40 cities either covered or soon to be active, it’s clear that AT&T’s taking it seriously,” wrote Jamie Keene in The Verge.

In July, AT&T turned on its LTE network in Buffalo; Burlington, N.C.; Corpus Christi, Texas; Gainsville, Ga.; Winston-Salem and Greensboro, N.C., Wichita, Kan. June brought LTE service to Nashville and Lawrenceburg, Tenn. In March, AT&T announced its LTE service plans scheduled for April, May and into the early summer to several markets, including Cleveland, Akron and Canton, Ohio; Naples, Fla.; Bloomington, Lafayette and Muncie, Ind.; Baton Rouge and New Orleans, La.; St. Louis, Mo.; Bryan-College Station, Texas; and Staten Island in New York City.

T-Mobile, which is in the early stages of equipping its towers with LTE equipment, launched HSPA+ (what it calls 4G) in Abilene, Amarillo, Odessa, and Victoria, Tex; Bakersfield, CA; Eau Claire, Wis.; Joplin and St. Joseph, Mo., in March and now covers. 220 million people in 229 markets with the technology that has theoretical download speeds of 42 mbps

T-Mobile’s latest ad does a nice job of educating the public about wireless infrastructure, showing its spokes-model Carly Foulkes riding her Ducati motorcycle past several of the carrier’s more than 35,000 cell towers.

“The great news for our customers is that we’re continually making the T-Mobile 4G experience faster and more dependable as we modernize the network in 2012 – improving signal strength, in-building coverage and device choice – and prepare to launch LTE next year,” Neville Ray, chief technology officer, wrote in his blog. “Our new ‘towers’ ad is just another way we’re letting our customers know they’re covered by T-Mobile’s 4G network.”

Partnership Opens NEC’s Universe to SpiderCloud Technology

NEC is partnering with SpiderCloud Wireless to provide the SmartCloud system to its existing and new customers as part of an end-to-end small-cell solution, the companies announced at the Small Cells World Summit 2012, held June 26-28, in London.

“With NEC we have an established player in the small cell/femto cell market that has already been deploying solutions from other vendors in this space and are engaged with 20 major operators worldwide,” Ronny Haraldsvik, SpiderCloud spokesman, told DAS Bulletin. “It gives us a tremendous amount of go-to-market strength with a proven partner in this space.”

SpiderCloud’s emphasis on medium to large size enterprise deployments, which demand hundreds of radio nodes serving thousands of users, complements NEC’s current smaller scale approach, deploying femtocells in the residential small office market.

The relationship will accelerate indoor deployments of SpiderCloud’s Enterprise Radio Access Network (E-RAN) small cells at medium to large enterprise customers of mobile operators.

“With NEC’s small-cell footprint covering more than 20 carriers worldwide, we can accelerate the deployment of E-RANs to help our customers serve their client bases with a premium mobile services platform that is free from the capacity, time-to-market and cost limitations of DAS,” said Anil Kohli, General Manager at NEC Europe, in a prepared release.

The relationship between NEC and SpiderCloud appears to have a research and development component, as the two companies said they will continue to innovate with an integrated 3G and Wi-Fi SmartCloud system moving toward what sounds like a more heterogeneous ecosystem.

The companies said the new system will provide carriers with a consistent management interface, automated RF planning, inter-small-cell mobility, quality of service, wireless intrusion detection and prevention, 802.1x based authentication and 802.11u. Additionally, NEC has plans to support LTE in future releases of the E-RAN system.

Also at the Small Cells World Summit 2012, NEC launched a plug-and-play indoor small-cell, FP1624 for offices with 16,404 square feet and several stories. NEC’s latest outdoor small cell, the FMA1630, provides mobile operators with a cost-effective way of increasing the network coverage and capacity in outdoor environments.

“NEC’s vision of the LTE roll out in future mobile networks is based on the assumption that services and applications will demand higher throughput in both uplink and downlink,” NEC said on its website. “The conventional macro solutions that would have been supported by a few infill micro layers now require a higher number of supporting picocells to provide the rapid growth in the traffic demand. For this reason NEC’s product portfolio, while offering a macro eNodeB solution of lowest possible footprint, is also optimized for small-cell deployment by offering a highly compact Omni eNodeB solution all in one.”