“Build it and they will come” still holds true for mobile broadband networks

October 26, 2015

if-youbuildDemand for mobile data keeps growing. Smart mobile operators no longer want to offload their subscribers to unmanaged and unsecure Wi-Fi, they want to keep them. Hey, one can’t claim to be a mobile service provider for long, if the business plan is to not service one’s subscribers, right? Imagine, if an airline sold you an air ticket from San Francisco to New York, but got you to Philly instead,  and offloaded you to a bus to Chinatown in New York (one with a really, really fast driver, and free Wi-Fi!).

That is why SpiderCloud has built a system that one operator recently described as having “too much capacity!” Want to know more? Here is a series of recent blog posts…

Questions, comments, give us a call or find us on Twitter.

– Amit Jain, Vice President of Marketing & Product Management
– Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies


Can a mid-sized building have more capacity than a small city?

September 29, 2015

A question to mobile operators: You have just acquired the rights to deploy an indoor system inside a large building and are about to deploy 50+ antennas inside the building. Now, would you like to add a full LTE cell to each antenna? That’s right… would you like a complete LTE single-sector base station where you were planning to install just an antenna? What about two LTE base stations where you were planning to install just an antenna?

Adding an LTE (or 3G) cell in the macro network is expensive, very expensive, and difficult as h*$%! So, rather than getting more cell sites, operators try to increase capacity by buying more spectrum (billions), and improving spectral efficiency (even more billions). As frequent readers of this blog know, SpiderCloud offers a way to add a massive amount of capacity indoors – using scalable small cell systems.

One of SpiderCloud’s customers recently asked our system engineering team to estimate the capacity of a SpiderCloud dual-carrier LTE system. We have a rather sophisticated modeling tool that accounts for interference between small cells and macros, generates randomized distribution of users and more. So, for this analysis, we took an 180,000 ft2 4-floor building. Based on the building’s floor plans, 24 radio nodes were sufficient to provide coverage, and this system was capable of delivering more than 2.5 Gbps of throughput, at less than 50% loading!

diagramblog0915

2.5 Gbps in an 180,000 ft2 is a lot of capacity, enough to stream HD movies to 500 Netflix subscribers simultaneously! Not surprising, since this building has 48 LTE cells, equivalent to 16 3-sector macro base stations, sufficient to cover a small city. Though the actual capacity delivered by a SpiderCloud system will depend upon the backhaul connection commissioned by the operator, adding capacity is as easy as provisioning more backhaul, a topic we discussed in a previous post.

SpiderCloud’s approach is very different from big macro base stations vendors, all of whom are still looking for a way to somehow make their macro base station technology (Dots, Lamps, and everything else) applicable to indoor. Macro base station roadmaps are rightfully designed to incrementally squeeze more bps out of existing macro cell site grid, and more $$s out of operators. The whole point is to sell the operator increasingly expensive-to-deploy features like coordinated multipoint and 4×4 MIMO on existing platforms – basically, a gravy train for the big vendors, a sink-hole for their customers.

SpiderCloud’s offers a disruptive alternative – a really easy to deploy system with so much capacity on day one that our customers do not have to buy a capacity upgrade for a very, very long time.

– Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies
– Amit Jain, Vice President of Marketing & Product Management

Twitter: @EMobilityInside
Visit our Enterprise IT site @ http://SpiderCloud.com/EInsider


Fact Check: Adding Capacity in an E-RAN System

August 24, 2015

We have encountered a number of incorrect opinions about how to add capacity to an E-RAN installation. It’s time to clarify the concerns, and set the record straight.

Adding capacity to an E-RAN installation is done by increasing the size of backhaul connecting it to the mobile core. Further, the contemporary Ethernet Network Termination Equipment “NTE” that are implemented by Tier One operators, adding capacity is performed by an OSS system by increasing the logical rate on a 1Gbps Ethernet physical port. There is no need to visit the building, add additional Radio Nodes and cabling, or install new cards in a chassis.

In the balance of this post, we review the E-RAN technical characteristics that support the approach of increasing backhaul to add capacity to an E-RAN.

E-RAN Technical

  • Each SpiderCloud Radio Node (SCRN-310) offers 2 cells (sectors) of capacity, and supports up to 128 active users.
  • Up to 100 SCRN-310s can be connected to a Services Node. The Services Node supports over 10,000 subscribers.
  • The number of Radio Nodes in a building is based on coverage. Each radio node covers 750-1000 sq. m. (7,500-10,000 sq. ft.).
  • A single 20Mhz wide LTE carrier can deliver up to 150Mbps of downlink to a mobile device.
  • The fronthaul network supporting the cloud of Radio Nodes associated with a Services Node is typically a 1Gb PoE+ link to an Ethernet VLAN with a 10Gbps backbone that interconnects the switches.

To make sense of this, typical commercial structures in the USA and Europe allocate anywhere from 15-25 sq. m. per person (150-250 sq. ft.) and, for purposes of this Fact Check, we’ll use a density of 10 sq. m. per person. This means that the maximum population supported by a single RN-310 with 750 sq. m. of coverage will be 75 people – of which only a small amount will be consuming capacity from their serving Radio Node at any moment in time.

Clearly, there is a huge amount of RF link capacity available to serve the mobile devices in this example. Note that each RN provides more capacity to a 1,000 sq. m. area than many DAS (or remote radio head systems) provide to a 10,000 sq. m. building. We shared, in this post, our view of spectrum re-use and how the E-RAN is analogous to the wired network revolution that was led by the emergence of 10Base-T and Ethernet switches.

In our experience, there is rarely a situation in which an operator has to add a Radio Node due to RF resource contention.

Now, let’s look at the backhaul that connects the Services Node to the mobile core. When an E-RAN system is viewed from end to end, the sizing of the backhaul is generally the bottleneck in any performance scenario. What limits the capacity of an E-RAN system is the backhaul that the operator delivers. If the operator delivers 100 Mbps of backhaul to an E-RAN with 20 RNs, it will operate at <5% of its capacity. If an operator wants to add capacity to an E-RAN, all they need to do is to increase the backhaul coming into the building.

Fact Check Recap:
Question: How do you add capacity to an E-RAN?
Answer: Increase the size of the backhaul as-needed. No truck rolls or on-site work required.

To our readers, if you have additional questions or areas of interest around implementation, please contact us. We’re happy to Fact Check what you may have been told.

– Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies

Twitter: @EMobilityInside
Visit our Enterprise IT site @ http://SpiderCloud.com/EInsider


From Outside-In to Inside-Out

September 3, 2012

Small Networks and Digital Oxygen, Big Enterprise Services Future for Mobile Operators

What a difference a couple of years can make. We’re in the midst of a mobile industry in transformation – the most rapid change we have seen from the RAN equipment and services players since the move to CDMA/WCDMA over a decade ago. With the inclusion of Wi-Fi as part of outdoor macro networks and coffee and retail shops and Femto cells as a useful stand-alone access point for residential and small businesses, “small” is here to stay. Small, as in small cells, which embed 3G, Wi-Fi and LTE access functionalities into a small cell form factor as part of the overall macro network, lovingly referred to as HetNet (Heterogeneous Networks), is growing in importance as Small Cells are in strong consideration as infill networks for dense metropolitan areas where they complement the bigger Macro network. Since Mobile World Congress 2011, Deutsche Bank Securities has called for an answer to the “densification problem.” And we are “getting there” as an industry.

As we look to 2020 and ignore some of the ‘noise’ in between now and then, the pragmatic view is mobile networks will become more capable and agile with the use of Macro and Small Cell networks to better handle capacity requirements from consumers and enterprises. Since we will likely not see a 3GPP ‘5G’ term, we’re talking about a common service network infrastructure where Macro/Micro/Small Cells work in close tandem with intelligent physical and virtual routing of access and services.  In simple terms, vendors will help operators make better use of what they have, to deliver more capacity, when and where it’s needed.

Goldman Sachs expects small cells to drive 18% of RAN investment by 2016. The profound statement here is that the 18% may be able to handle as much as 80% of all the traffic. For proper context, keep in mind that indoor/outdoor multi-mode Wi-Fi/3G/LTE is part of this equation.

Scalable small cell systems are in the early days of making a bigger impact in metropolitan public access markets, and evolving to include all access technologies in various form factors. The next battleground is for sustainable ARPU and the enterprise markets.

Multi-Mode, Multi-Access Small Cells that can Scale to Demands of the Enterprise

Mobile operators want to acquire and retain valuable enterprise customers. For the next few years, ARPU growth for Western and USA operators will come from the medium to large enterprise segments. In many countries, ARPU for enterprise subscribers is twice as much as the ARPU for consumers.  Employees of mid-to-large sized enterprises constitute 15% of subscribers at major mobile operators like Vodafone, and contribute as much as 30% of their revenue. These enterprise customers are not only the most loyal and profitable customers that mobile operators have, but also the most demanding. They expect the mobile operator to deliver seamless wireless coverage in their facilities, to stay ahead of the rapidly growing demand for wireless capacity, and to offer innovative ways to solve business problems.

Often, enterprise subscribers are willing to purchase new services from operators, ranging from international roaming plans to mobile device management. However, to win these customers, mobile operators must provide high-capacity networks where business customers spend more than 80% of their working hours – indoors.

Enterprise small cells have emerged as the most promising technology to deliver high-capacity and 3G coverage inside offices. Analyst firms such as Infonetics, ABI Research, and Informa expect enterprise small cells to be the fastest growing segment of the small cell market. Infonetics Research expects enterprise small cells to grow fastest, contributing to over 50% of small cell investment by 2016. http://tinyurl.com/6ngeo83

ABI predicts small cells for enterprise deployments will catch up with DAS by the 2016 timeframe – reaching the $2 billion mark by 2016. (August 24, 2012: http://tinyurl.com/9o8gktv). The inside enterprise opportunity with a lower cost and more flexible system that can be deployed by-enterprise, by-floor, in days and not 9+ months, also means that operators are making better use of licensed spectrum indoors which have a positive impact on resources used by the outside macro. Our findings show that as many as 90% of medium to large enterprises in a metro area have cellular indoor coverage and capacity problems – which currently cannot be addressed cost effectively by mobile operators.

When properly accessed with a lower cost and scalable small cell solution, the amounts of pockets of un-used licensed spectrum inside metropolitan and campus office buildings in New York, San Francisco, London, Beijing, Singapore, Paris and Barcelona alone…could mirror the importance of discovering and utilizing the world’s largest crude oil deposits in Ghawar (Saudi Arabia) in 1948. Mobility spectrum (licensed) is the digital oxygen, and our industry’s equivalent to crude oil deposits.

But, scalable enterprise small cells cannot fulfill their potential without a deployment architecture that meets the performance expectations of enterprises and the business requirements of mobile operators. Enterprises expect small cell systems to provide seamless voice coverage, LAN-comparable mobile data throughput, and integration with local applications. Mobile operators need a solution that can be rapidly deployed, minimizes operating costs, is easy to manage, and scales – from small offices to huge multi-story buildings.

SpiderCloud’s small cell architecture, called E-RAN (Enterprise Radio Access Network), is designed from the ground up to meet the performance expectations of enterprises and larger venues (V-RAN) and the business requirements of mobile operators.

What makes a scalable small cell RAN different?

  • Seamless voice coverage, with make before break handovers
  • Consistently high data throughput, by managing inter-small cell interference
  • Policy-based integration with Enterprise Intranet and voice applications
  • Rapid deployment, with self organizing and self-optimizing algorithms
  • Enterprise-centered management
  • Lower operating costs through efficient use of backhaul
  • Scalability – from small enterprises to very large

SpiderCloud Wireless E-RAN systems are deployed in commercial networks. With 65 Radio Nodes and one Services Node deployed using SON over 16 floors in one green building in the heart of London, SpiderCloud is proud to lay claim to the world’s largest (consecutive and SON connected Radio Nodes) and most capable in-building small cell network for voice and data services, where the foundation for services is already in place. The world of mobile is indeed turning itself inside out and Digital Oxygen may be as valuable as crude oil by 2020. ?

Stay tuned, as we share more progress and adoption of the SpiderCloud Wireless small cell systems for scalable deployments inside enterprises and large venues.  You can request a meeting with us at any of these upcoming industry events.

You can also follow our progress at twitter spidercloud_inc and haraldsvik.
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Ronny Haraldsvik
SVP/CMO
SpiderCloud Wireless