March 12, 2015 — Before we get small cells that blend Wi-Fi and cellular into a unified solution, the intermediate step will be to physically integrate Wi-Fi equipment into cellular base stations. At the Mobile World Congress, Ruckus Wireless announced that it has been working with Nokia Networks to integrate its 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology into selected Flexi Zone products to address the demand for cellular base stations that provide Wi-Fi data offload.
Purpose-built small cells with Wi-Fi provide carriers with flexible, cost-effective solutions to ease this pressure on their existing infrastructures serving high-traffic stationary areas and indoor deployments, according to Greg Beach, vice president of Product Management at Ruckus Wireless.
“While operators continue to embrace the licensed spectrum to address ballooning traffic demands, it’s clear that integrating carrier-class Wi-Fi into Small cells is a smart, forward-thinking approach to addressing this challenge, even in the most advanced cellular networks,” Beach said.
The combined Ruckus/Nokia Networks Small cell solution will be commercially available in the first half of 2015 from Nokia Networks.
Ruckus has experience integrating Wi-Fi with small cells, working with Alcatel Lucent in a system deployed by O2 a couple of years ago. The small form factor was developed to give local municipalities a system that would pass zoning regulations.
In preparation for the London Olympics in 2012, the 02 wireless network was deployed on street lamps and using a Ruckus 8800 wireless AP, which integrated 3G/4G, Wi-Fi and backhaul into a single, small-form factor. A Ruckus 7762 unit provided backhaul, and a 5 GHz Wi-Fi mesh was used to link each node.
J. Sharpe Smith is the editor of AGL Link and AGL Small Cell Link.