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


Challenges Confronting Enterprise CIOs and Mobility Leaders in Moving Enterprises from Wireless to Mobile Productivity

September 19, 2013

The goal of CIO’s and enterprise architects is to unwire their organizations and make them more productive by any means necessary – by focusing on the core business of the enterprise. Rather than making IT bigger, the CIO’s focus is to make the business more agile and flexible, doing more with less. The use of mobility, cloud, applications and managed services help them achieve the enterprise goals.

The communications technology of yesterday (that is embodied in fixed devices, e.g. desk phone and laptop software, e.g. UC clients) must be moved to the employee’s mobile devices. The point of failure within most mobile initiatives, at present, is the lack of respect for the need of mobile device owners to have a “magic” user experience (no App to install, do nothing new, no change in user behavior). The differences between a consumer and enterprise behavior, and requirements are significant.

Normal consumer behavior is to cost optimize as much as possible with a goal of a free service (such as Skype), and defer certain broadband behavior or actions (use of free Wi-Fi hotspots to offset impact on plans). And finally, unpredictable quality is acceptable.

Enterprise behavior, though influenced by consumer demand for ease-of-use, focuses on cost optimization. All actions are urgent, and/or immediate, and quality must be consistent, good, highly predictable and repeatable. IT also likes to keep things simple (devices, applications and services). If not, new cost-reducing or productivity initiatives will not be used or adopted. Most importantly, IT’s focus is to make access as secure as possible, and empower employees with high quality mobile services that work, with no limitations, wherever people are.

Sounds easy, right?

Deploying new tools, and getting their usage ingrained into an organization is one of the hardest tasks in enterprise IT. If the OTT tool replicates a consumer grade communication feature of the mobile device, and is not a mandatory part of daily workflow in the person’s role, chances of success are low.

There may be ‘islands’ of OTT, but moving everyone onto one platform is extremely hard. The right philosophy to enterprise services, in context of Unified Communication, is that the experience should become a “Clientless UC” experience where the consumer experience of “just make it work” is integrated to the enterprise platform. By taking this path, enterprise IT significantly reduces its OTT support burdens, and greatly increases the chance of success vs. the present UC strategies. Many enterprise device owners will continue to be very resistant to adopting multiple tools. Enterprise IT, when presented with service packages that allow the consumer interfaces to accomplish functions that OTT solves for, will approve those packages instead of using Capex funding to build and run the OTT services themselves.

The Pre-Requisite: Dependable Coverage and Capacity

Nothing halts a mobile initiative decision faster than lack of reliable coverage or capacity. Mobile operators who are trying to sell advanced services layered on top of the macro-network know this problem well. Office buildings that have known significant coverage/capacity problems can be excluded from evolving, because of the steep operations expenses associated with systems engineering and provisioning. Why? Enterprise IT has to make simple decisions on technology that must be good for all employees within the enterprise. On average, an IT team moves 40% of employees annually. If a group of employees were unwired, and then moved to a location with poor coverage/capacity, not only would they be unhappy, but they would also have to be re-provisioned with wired services. The operations expense with normal technology moves is far lower than unwiring/wiring. A practical IT person will defer unwiring their organization until dependable coverage and capacity is available. As new energy efficient buildings and remodeling gradually eliminate the ability of the macro-network to penetrate with reliable signals indoors, providing coverage and capacity from the inside-out is becoming a big problem for mobile operators.

To succeed in the enterprise, we need to mirror the consumer mobile experience with enterprise devices and applications.

Earlier this week, Vodafone did exactly that. Vodafone is the world’s first mobile operator to offer a system that can deliver reliable mobile services indoors, for enterprise customers of any size, using a highly scalable system.

“We can now, more rapidly than ever, address the needs of thousands of enterprise customers who rely on mobile connectivity and services for business productivity” – Marcel van den Biggelaar, Head of Technology Strategy, Vodafone Netherlands.

Vodafone Netherlands is empowering enterprise CIO and IT teams with a mobile experience without the need to change user behavior, or take a crash-course in becoming a mobile operator overnight (placing themselves in harm’s way for IT trouble tickets).

Why is this important? 50% of enterprises would churn to an operator that could provide better in-building mobile coverage.

So, who else will take the bold step to fix the problem with mobility inside? Industry insiders are speculating “SpiderCloud expects to also announce US and South American customers between now and Mobile World Congress.” If you are a CIO or IT team leader for mobility, we know what you are hoping for. By the way, we can be of help, and visit our Enterprise Insider for insights.

So who else can do what we do? Very few, fewer than you’d think. See Maravedis/Rethink Wireless “Small Cells Inside the Enterprise: The Who What  & Where”.

Next, we will cover more problem areas in enterprise as we transition from a wireless to a mobile enterprise, and the mobile operator data center opportunity.

Stay tuned; mobility inside is coming your way.

Ronny Haraldsvik, SVP/CMO 
Twitter: @haraldsvik
Art King, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies
 Twitter: @EMobilityInside



Around the World… in 88 Meetings

March 8, 2013

Last week, SpiderCloud Wireless attended, and actively participated, at the annual Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona. Though we miss the old location at Fira Montjuic, the new conference facility at Fira Gran Via proved itself a worthy venue. GSMA put on an impressive event again. Our hats off to Mike O’Hara and team!  See the Wrap Up Video.

We hosted 88 meetings and engagements during the 4 days. In addition, SpiderCloud Wireless was part of a fortunate few private companies invited to speak. We had 3 speaker slots on Tuesday, February 26:

  • Network Offloading” panel @ Mobile World Live TV
  • “What Enterprise IT Wants…” @ Small Cell Forum Pavilion
  • “Smaller But Smarter” small cell CEO panel (Mike)

Several themes emerged from MWC13.

1. The physical borders between mobile and service provider networks and enterprise IT networks are starting to “blur.” Ericsson, Juniper, Intel, IBM and Cisco were among the big firms positioning SDN and virtualization initiatives (including DPI, policy, optimization, etc.)

2. A new round of Smartphone OS wars are emerging. Mozilla, Ubuntu and Jolla are coming on strong and see an opportunity to disrupt a growing duopoly of Apple iOS and Google Android. Mozilla Firefox received support by 23 operators and partners.

3. Small Cell Networks and Integration of Wi-Fi also dominated the topics.  Small cells are now viewed as more mature and becoming a real market. As Needham Co. puts it: “small cells and hetnets remain one of the most popular topics at MWC, there is also a welcome sense of sobriety to hetnet discussions, following two years of relatively limited deployments. The complex reality of deploying hundreds, if not thousands of small cells in a geographically constrained area, as well as the lack of capacity constraints on many early stage 4G networks, has resulted in the small cell market generally moving slower than envisioned, when the hype cycle began two years ago.”

Rethink Wireless & Maravedis commented: “Most operators are interested in the elements involved and making active preparations, so this year saw the debate move from theory and hardware, to real world implementation issues such as self-optimizing networks, Wi-Fi integration and optimized back office platforms.” There was also the recognition that SON will have a critical role when it comes to the deployment of small cells, especially on a large-scale basis.

Signals Research Group stated: “In-building deployments will need SON/HetNet on steroids since in addition to managing the relationships and interference coordination between adjacent cells on the same floor, SON/HetNet will need to work in the vertical plane, or between two or multiple floors.”

“Challenges that are being addressed by equipment providers include how to backhaul the cells, site acquisition challenges, how to manage interference between both small cells and the macro network, or if fresh spectrum needs to be allocated to small cells, and integration of small-cells with Wi-Fi. Privately held SpiderCloud offers a smart small-cell alternative (focused mainly on indoor coverage applications) with its controller-based self-optimizing network architecture.”

It’s clear that there is tremendous interest and traction for multi-mode access using a scalable small cell system (>100 small cells with soft handoff and central coordination) to deliver reliable mobile services indoors for enterprise customers of any size.  In addition to showcasing our performance metrics with the scalable small cell system, many meetings also focused on scaling requirements for small cell deployments and “beyond coverage and capacity” planning with enterprise services focused on PBX and Cloud-based PBX integration, context-aware and location applications, security and compliance, and Wi-Fi as a service.

In their MWC wrap up, Deutsche Bank commented: “The challenges solved by SpiderCloud are much greater for multi-story buildings, given that interference issues are three dimensional instead of two dimensional, as with traditional layouts. Given the increase in efficiency seen by Vodafone and the significantly lower total cost of SpiderCloud¹s solution compared to that of a traditional DAS system, we think the company could see a meaningful ramp in deployments with carriers this year.”

Besides scalability and services, of great interest, was also the findings from 3 recent studies:

  • Valuable licensed spectrum is a largely under-utilized asset indoors: Quantifying the in-building coverage and capacity constraints of an outdoor macro network that is used to provide in-building mobile data services – a research report by Signals Research Group. read more >
  • Enterprise Mobility Services: Market Opportunity for Mobile Service Providers – a market analysis by Exact Ventures that highlights a $100 billion 2020 emerging market opportunity for mobile operators. The research shows that enterprises can save 35% a year by adopting such operator-delivered managed and hosted services, totaling $60 Billion in cumulative savings between 2014-2020. read more >
  • Enterprise IT Coverage & Capacity UK satisfaction survey, which identified concerns with in-building service and willingness to switch mobile operators for better coverage. read more >

We enjoyed positive coverage from our time in Barcelona, and look forward to meeting customers, partners and our industry friends at one of our upcoming industry engagements.

As for us, we already look forward to Mobile World Congress 2014 and continued success for all the small cell vendors.

– Ronny Haraldsvik SVP/CMO
Twitter: haraldsvik


The 2020 Services Network

November 6, 2012

Apps & Cloud Services by Mobile Operators for Enterprise IT Teams

As 2013 approaches, and as we look as far as 2020, the pragmatic view is that 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, and bring forth the true potential for cloud and application services. Our focus is on access, but what we are enabling are services.

We are seeing the emergence of a common service network infrastructure where macro/micro/small cells work in close tandem with intelligent physical and virtual routing of access and services.

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. 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 battleground is for sustainable ARPU and the enterprise markets. With cloud and application services, mobile operators become a true partner to enterprise CIOs. Mobile operators can offer enterprise customers reliable Mobile Applications and Cloud Services (MACS) to help mobilize people and move expenses from the Capex to the Opex side of the equation, with clientless and effortless communications services enabled by the system. Unified Communications (UC) could be offered by mobile operators, thus taking cost and complexities away from enterprise IT. Do It Yourself (DIY), or ask the experts for help?

What if there was a way forward that enabled UC to be more successful and reduce the burden on Enterprise IT and the device owners? Is this even possible?

The answer is “yes” and it revolves around RAT Détente. What do we mean? UC suppliers need to embrace the Yin/Yang of wireless technologies with the wireless service provider community globally. Yin/Yang is actively building software so each RAT does what it’s best at in order to deliver a magical experience for the device owner. Let 3G, and eventually, LTE support voice, and 3G/LTE/Wi-Fi support data. To make this a reality:

  • The Mobile Operator needs to provide blanket coverage and capacity inside structures to enable the strategy. You cannot move forward without adequate quantities of the digital oxygen that the mobile devices breathe.
  • The Mobile Operator needs to bridge the gap from their networks into the Enterprise UC architecture. The mobile plumbing must play its part in recognizing an enterprise’s dial plan and routing calls to their PBX!
  • The Enterprise UC vendors need to insure their clients are more agile, and correctly support Integrated RAT UC in addition to legacy Wi-Fi only UC.
  • Mobile Operators treat enterprise calls as free when using the solution (assume a monthly rate for each mobile UC device).

Meeting the four conditions above will allow Enterprises to:

  • Eliminate Capex requirements, and move to a predictable and scalable Opex financial environment.
  • Move Telecom and Network operations headcount to more strategic roles in IT.
  • Eliminate, as desired, desk phones for mobile workers.
  • Support ANY device an employee brings in, for minimally voice+IM/Presence. Feature phones can be a UC extension!
  • Only support mobile UC client for non-real time functions (non-SMS IM, Voicemail, etc.).
  • Simplify Wi-Fi architectures and deployments.

Meeting the four conditions above will allow Mobile Operators to:

  • Increase ARPU while enabling the enterprise to save even more.
  • Create value to enterprises that are mobilizing their workforce.
  • Simplify the support landscape of the enterprise.
  • Create deep and important relationships with the enterprise UC vendors to leverage their sales teams.
  • Leverage your premise based heterogeneous network investments currently underway in a unique and powerful way that both UC vendors, or enterprises, cannot do by themselves.

We are at a turning point where small cell systems, like SpiderCloud’s, will not only enable heterogeneous networks, but solve problems that were previously unaddressed. With the presence of a “local controller” or a “Service Node”, operators now have one leg in the enterprise premise, and the other leg in the Mobile network, boasting a powerful onboard virtualization platform. Together we can enable the true potential of Unified Communications to finally be realized on mobile devices in a magical way that caters to the needs of enterprise business users. The enterprise services opportunity is enabled with targeted deployments of coverage, capacity and an open door for services. Deployment of scalable small cell systems starts taking hold inside medium to large enterprises, to compliment DAS, or in places where DAS does not make economic sense.

“What does the Enterprise Customer Want” and “The Business Case for Small Cells for Enterprise’ are key interest topics at the upcoming LTE North America conference in Dallas on November 14-15. See more at http://americas.lteconference.com

In addition to enterprise LTE North America panels, there’s also a follow on, by-invitation-only, panel on November 15 at 5pm (Oak Room) which takes a deeper dive into IT services examples with IT experts from the industry. The session is moderated by Mike Thelander, Principal at Signals Research. Request an invite.

2013 is the year when operators can start to offer true managed mobility services to the enterprise to include BYOD, MDM, Wi-Fi and PBX Integration – offering UC-clientless access to mobility, applications and cloud-based services, after they prove themselves as trusted providers of reliable indoor coverage and capacity for enterprises with 100 to 10,000 people, with 3G, Wi-Fi and 4G/LTE access.

To help the mobile operators, small and large vendors must be able to provide the ability to build very dense small cell networks to address their own network coverage and capacity needs, before they can offer enterprise customers with reliable mobile, application and cloud services – as they help transition enterprises from a wireless to a mobile connected business.

Everything is changing, and we’re entering into the ‘glide path’ for a true services network of the future where instant on-demand availability of operator services, additional capacity, applications and movies is determined by your referred sensory profile, time and place. The 2020 services network is not far away.

You can follow Ronny Haraldsvik at Twitter @haraldsvik

– Ronny Haraldsvik SVP/CMO


Beyond Basic Coverage & Capacity, This is a Battle for Apps and the Cloud

October 26, 2012

The Transition from an Access Network to a 2020 Services Network

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 in 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.  As 2013 approaches, and as we look as far as 2020, the pragmatic view is that 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, and bring forth the true potential for cloud and application services. Our focus is on access, but what we are enabling are services.

We are seeing the emergence of a common service network infrastructure where macro/micro/small cells work in close tandem with intelligent physical and virtual routing of access and services.

Goldman Sachs expects small cells to drive 18% of RAN investment by 2016. The profound point 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. With cloud and application services, mobile operators become a true partner to enterprise CIOs. Mobile operators can offer enterprise customers reliable SmartCloud™ Mobile Applications and Cloud Services (MACS) to help mobilize people and move expenses from the Capex to the Opex side of the equation with clientless and effortless communications services enabled by the system:

  • Wi-Fi as a service with enterprise-class Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n with 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz bands
  • Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
  • Device Management (MDM)
  • Security and compliance
  • Integration with existing PBX or cloud-based PBX

The enterprise services opportunity is enabled with targeted deployments of coverage, capacity and an open door for services. Deployment of scalable small cell systems starts taking hold inside medium to large enterprises, to compliment DAS, or in places where DAS does not make economic sense.

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. 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).

2013 is the year when operators start offering true managed wireless services to the enterprise to include BYOD, MDM, Wi-Fi and PBX Integration – offering UC-clientless access to mobility, applications and cloud-based services. LTE usage may reach 20% of subscribers – for most operators (USA) with LTE spectrum, the majority of usage (90%) will be consumer video-related.

As we prepare for these changes, SpiderCloud Wireless will support scalable and multi-access 3G, Wi-Fi and 4G/LTE small cell systems for mobile operators to help bring through the 2020 services network.

Already proven with its 3G E-RAN, SpiderCloud Wireless enables mobile operators to build very dense small cell networks to address their own network coverage and capacity needs, and offer enterprise customers with reliable mobile, application and cloud services as they transition from a wireless to a mobile connected enterprise. The E-RAN system consists of a Services Node (SCSN) that can control over 100 self-organizing and multi-access 3G, Wi-Fi and LTE/4G small cells that can be installed in just days using an enterprise Ethernet Local Area Network (LAN). One E-RAN delivers unprecedented capacity and coverage to over 10,000 connected smartphones and tablets, with just one connection to the mobile operator’s core network. The scalable system architecture simplifies deployment and overall network configuration for mobile operators as they address pent-up demand for reliable mobile services from enterprise and large venue customers.

See more about “Why is a Local Controller or Services Node Important for 3G/4G Small Cell Deployments?”

Mobile operators can now co-deploy 3G, 3G+Wi-Fi and LTE/4G small cell radio nodes, all managed by a single SCSN. The SCSN makes it possible to ‘densify’ an in-building network without impacting the rest of the network. It aggregates all the small cells deployed inside and makes the overall system appear as a single node to the mobile network. With SpiderCloud, a system of 3G and LTE/4G small cells appears as one cell to the mobile network 3G Iuh-compliant Gateway and as a single eNodeB to an Evolved Packet Core (EPC) network. SpiderCloud’s SCSN enables seamless small cell-to-small cell mobility, and manages interference between the E-RAN and the macro cellular network.

The SCSN significantly increases average mobile data throughput for small cells, capacity and the overall performance of a small cell network, improving the small cell economics for a mobile operator. A SpiderCloud system is proven to handle over 100,000 data sessions and handoffs on a daily basis while providing reliable voice and data coverage for hundreds to thousands of employees with just one connection to the mobile core network.

As we look to 2013 and the annual “meeting of the Gods” in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress, keep this in mind: with the access bottlenecks soon to be removed, everything is changing and we’re entering into a true services network future. 2020 networks are not far away where instant on-demand availability of operator services, additional capacity, applications and movies is determined by your referred sensory profile, time and place.

We think this platform approach will be adopted and become the de-facto approach to deliver services beyond basic access to enterprises and venues of any size and location.

Stay tuned, as we share more progress and adoption of the SpiderCloud Wireless small cell system 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.

– Ronny Haraldsvik SVP/CMO


Mobile Device Unified Communications Success and Radio Access Technology Détente: The new role of the Mobile Operator (Part 2)

October 12, 2012

I’ve personally experienced, over the years, many different reasons for why one Radio Access Technology (RAT) is better than another. In the Operator space, some of the available RAT choices are: UMTS, CDMA, LTE, and Wi-Fi. In the Enterprise space, however, there is a very aggressive goal of cost avoidance that is promoted by Enterprise Unified Communications (UC) manufacturers that favors the use of Wi-Fi. At first glance, this strategy makes sense if you’re only thinking about cost savings and not usability.

The end result is a quiet lack of UC usage on mobile devices due to complexity of the user experience. UC strategies are still very much a way to move telephony from desk phones into computers and do not fully factor in the culture shift to mobile devices and Corporate Owned Personally Enabled (COPE)/Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) thinking change that has occurred over the last few years.

Why are mobile devices different? Simple. They have a native dialer subsystem built into them that the device owner uses every day either directly or via contact list dialing (Note: Tablets are more like Laptops as a telephone dialer is not a native feature). For UC that uses a separate App to make and receive calls, Enterprise IT must rollout software, infrastructure improvements, and train employees on use of UC. This means gearing up both people and processes to support UC lifecycle on a long-term basis (UC is not just a project, it is a new capacity). Now, let’s add in COPE/BYOD device choice issues and hope that the UC vendor is actually supporting the devices that IT is allowing the employees to bring into the Enterprise.

Now, lets say there is great news and the Enterprise has funding to invest in UC and all their sanctioned mobile devices are supported! So, why won’t people use it on mobile? The following is based on my live observations of pilot tests where we tried all three of the major vendors. UC on mobile overlooks the usability of the system from perspective of Business device owner. Think about these facts:

  • In our personal life, we will submit to a little pain in order to avoid paying charges.
  • In our business life, time is too limited to allow us to do something different when we need to talk to a colleague while either of us are mobile.
  • Most of us quickly abandon tools that are not obvious, immediately useful, or poorly supported.
  • Most of us will not give up a desk phone for mobile UC without an excellent replacement user experience on the mobile. One of the key selling points for mobile UC is to eliminate Opex for desk phones (support and MACD activity).

In my pilot testing, every vendor’s UC platform was abandoned by Business customers in favor of using the native dialer on the iPhone. Some of the complaints were dropped calls, poor network coverage, clunky interface, inbound PSTN calls disrupting UC, software too complex to configure by the device owner, and so forth. In my environment, for two of the vendors, we had Enterprise wide CALs but still chose not to deploy mobile UC!

What if there was a way forward that enabled UC to be more successful and reduce the burden on Enterprise IT and the device owners? Is this even possible?

The answer is “yes” and it revolves around RAT Détente. What do I mean? UC suppliers need to embrace the Yin/Yang of wireless technologies with the wireless service provider community globally. Yin/Yang is actively building software so each RAT does what it’s best at in order to deliver a magical experience for the device owner. Let 3G and, eventually, LTE support voice and 3G/LTE/Wi-Fi support data. To make this a reality:

  • The Mobile Operator needs to provide blanket coverage and capacity inside structures to enable the strategy. You cannot move forward without adequate quantities of the Digital Oxygen that the mobile devices breathe.
  • The Mobile Operator needs to bridge the gap from their networks into the Enterprise UC architecture. The mobile plumbing must play its part in recognizing an Enterprise’s dial plan and routing calls to their PBX!
  • The Enterprise UC vendors need to insure their clients are more agile and correctly support Integrated RAT UC in addition to legacy Wi-Fi only UC.
  • Mobile operators treat Enterprise calls as free when using the solution (assume a monthly rate for each mobile UC device).

Meeting the four conditions above will allow Enterprises to:

  • Eliminate Capex requirements and move to a predictable and scalable Opex financial environment.
  • Move Telecom and Network operations headcount to more strategic roles in IT.
  • Eliminate, as desired, desk phones for mobile workers.
  • Support ANY device an employee brings in for, minimally, voice+IM/Presence. Feature phones can be a UC extension!
  • Only support mobile UC client for non-real time functions (non-SMS IM, Voicemail, etc).
  • Simplify Wi-Fi architectures and deployments.

Meeting the four conditions above will allow Mobile Operators to:

  • Increase ARPU while enabling the Enterprise to save even more.
  • Create value to Enterprises that are mobilizing their workforce.
  • Simplify the support landscape of the Enterprise.
  • Create deep and important relationships with the Enterprise UC vendors to leverage their Sales teams.
  • Leverage your premise based Heterogeneous Network investments currently underway in a unique and powerful way that both UC vendors or Enterprises cannot do by themselves.

In summary, we are at a turning point where systems, like SpiderCloud’s, will not only enable Heterogeneous Networks, but solve problems that were previously unaddressed. Because our Service Node exists with one leg in the Enterprise premise, the other leg in the Mobile Operator network, and boasts a powerful onboard virtualization platform, we enable the true potential of Unified Communications to finally be realized on mobile devices in a magical way that caters to the needs of Enterprise business users.

It’s about time!

Your Author’s Point of View: As a former Enterprise Infrastructure Architect (Mobility/Collaboration at Nike, Inc.), the opportunities for mobile operators to help address enterprise Unified Communications, COPE/BYOD, and mobility challenges for enterprise IT departments are there. Opportunities to cultivate value-added services beyond coverage and capacity in the Enterprise space are built upon strong customer relationships and a proven technical foundation. Positive mindshare and perceptions in the eyes of the Enterprise buyers will create invitations to future opportunities.

A new and more important role is emerging for Mobile Operators where enterprise mobility and value-added IP services are part of the ‘package.’ Mobile is the heartbeat of any organization, and wireless is the Digital Oxygen that our devices breathe at home and on the road.

For information on the SpiderCloud Architecture: read more and watch movie

Want to talk? Please contact me

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


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.
Twitter

Ronny Haraldsvik
SVP/CMO
SpiderCloud Wireless


Part 1 of 4: “The requirements for In-building coverage”

July 21, 2011

Blog Series: “In-building Mobile Network Coverage for the IT Manager”

So your boss’ new iPhone 4 doesn’t work everywhere in the office, neither does anybody else’s Smartphone or Blackberry.

With mobile phones rapidly replacing the land line as the point of contact for employees, suppliers and customers, in-building mobile network coverage for mobile voice and data is more critical than ever. There are a number of methods of achieving suitable in-building coverage for the enterprise. New technologies are making deployments simpler and more cost effective. This 4-part blog series aims to help the Enterprise IT manager understand the issues and available technology options.

Methods of achieving suitable in-building coverage for the enterprise.

  1. “blasting” from the outside in using the macro:
    1. apart from asking your network provider to install a new cell tower or adjust the existing one, which is unlikely to happen, there’s not much you can do
  2. use a repeater system to re-radiate indoors (with or without a DAS system)
  3. use an active or passive DAS system, fed by base stations in the building
  4. use a small cell technology, like Femto cells:
    1. stand-alone or mesh-Femto (small offices)
    2. controller-based architecture (local switching, SON, seamless handoff, macro RF synchronization)

When considering an in-building coverage and capacity solution there are a number of evaluation criteria to consider, including:

  • RF planning
  • capacity requirements for voice and data
  • Installation of equipment, power, cabling, antennas etc.
  • radio optimization
  • fault management
  • security (e.g hospitals, financial institutions, government etc)
  • area of coverage/scale
  • addition of capacity
  • immunity from changes of building use/type
  • addition of extra coverage
  • removal of the system when you change office or service provider
  • operator/technology support
  • multi technology support
  • cost
  • “who” pays for “what” (and who will ultimately manage the system)?

As with most things in life, there is always a trade off. The next blog will look at “who pays” for the in-building system. You can break this down into three categories:

  1. The building owner, such as a construction firm, airport authority, landowner/landlord
  2. The operator – why would they do that?
  3. The end user or enterprise customer (who may also be the building owner)

Next blog will focus on “Who pays for the In-building system”

Christian Derrick
Technical Director


IM, Twitter, Facebook and the Signaling Impact on 3G Networks and Capacity

July 21, 2011

As the industry prepares for the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona February 15-18, we are seeing an uptick in press announcements and articles with regard to the issues of network capacity crunch how to solve these challenges. As some industry insider are (accurately) predicting, “data offload” will be a hot topic at this event, CTIA, and other events later this year.

Though the issues of network capacity are related to many facets of a network (backhaul, core, number of active “heavy bandwidth” 3G devices, software upgrades, etc) – the impact of low-bandwidth applications have gone relatively unnoticed until now. We may think that a small number of subscribers are taking up all the bandwidth in small metro area with the latest and greatest 3G devices, but as one long-time industry expert points out, application “signaling” traffic may be taking up more capacity than earlier anticipated.

Have you really considered the impact of signaling (and thus capacity impact) of active/passive subscribers’ use of Twitter®, Facebook®, and Instant messaging (IM over Yahoo, MSN, Skype) on network resources? Just think about that for a second. How many applications do you have on your Blackberry, iPhone or Android-powered device? How many of them pull down scores (Sports), weather, peer-to-peer IM and other “thin app” data? If you add it all up, the impact on capacity far outweighs the impact of some heavy data download/upload by 3 to 5% of subscribers.

Connection attempts may take up as much as 60% on the RNC processing power whereas 40% is dedicated for actual throughput. This data suggest that backhaul alone may not solve the capacity crunch.

In his latest report (“The Trouble with Twitters”*), Michael Thelander, founder and ceo of Signals Research Group, states: “Without question we have demonstrated that smartphones generate a disproportionate amount of signaling traffic, even when the smartphones are not being used. The question then becomes what can be done to combat this problem – a problem that will only intensify with the increasing popularity of smartphones and social networking websites and services.”

SRG Quote Feb '10

He goes on to say that there are many ways to solve the problem (You have to buy or subscribe to SRG to see his proposed solutions). As it relates to indoor wireless system, he reflects that… “Interestingly, picocells wouldn’t do much to address the issue of smartphone signaling, since, unlike femtocells, they connect directly to the RNC via the Iub interface. Picocells would, however, help offload data traffic from the network.” Though we did not partake in the research study, Signals Research Group notes that SpiderCloud Wireless and our E-RAN approach may play a role in the solution.

“The impact of smartphone data and signaling traffic on macro network capacity has strong ties to enterprise usage or usage from other large indoor locations where people congregate. In this case, a “mini-RAN” approach may be a more appropriate solution since additional intelligence would be needed for cell handovers and to minimize the interference from a large number of access points. Further, to the extent that voice calls or IMs are remaining within the enterprise, a “mini-RAN” solution, such as what is being promoted by SpiderCloud Wireless, would be able to keep the traffic within the “mini-RAN” and completely removed from the operator’s core network. The same can also be said for social networking services.”

As noted in our previous blog from 2 weeks ago, “3G does not have a coverage problem (….it’s a capacity issue!) ” – we conclude that “The net impact of the success of smartphones means that network operators must find ways to handle data offload with and without licensed spectrum and leverage Ethernet LAN where it’s feasible.”

See you in Barcelona.

Ronny A. Haraldsvik
Vice President of Marketing

*Report mention and quotes reprinted with permission from Signals Research Group.


3G does not have a coverage problem (….it’s a capacity issue!)

July 21, 2011

In recent weeks there’s been much publicity surrounding the impact that smartphones are having on operators’ networks, and subscribers’ frustration with coverage (“But, I have 5 bars– why isn’t my phone working?” or “Why can’t I access Facebook?”). The issue is less about coverage and more about network capacity. With the recently announced “unlimited” pricing bundles (US price wars), the issue of network capacity and data “offload” will continue to be hot topics throughout 2010 and beyond.

With the proliferation of 3G enabled smartphones (iPhone, Blackberry, Nokia, Google, HTC, etc.), network capacity and RAN coverage in metropolitan areas is fast becoming an issue. Mobile networks were built to handle the capacity needed for voice “busy hour”, not for “always on” bandwidth-heavy data sessions– anywhere subscribers go. “Busy hour” is no longer about voice. As much as 50% of all voice and data sessions are initiated at the work place– creating constant strain on the RAN and signals trying to penetrate high rises and dense business parks. Constant data consumption, throughout the day, is straining networks to its maximum capacity. “Busy hour” now stretches over many hours at different times of the day, from the early morning commute, through the work day and well into evening when people commute home or go out for a business dinner or a movie. Subscribers are constantly on the network, using applications such as Skype®, Twitter®, uploading photos to Facebook or accessing video on YouTube® or live TV via Slingbox®. There may be coverage but capacity is strained.

Adding to the capacity strain is a brewing price war, and “unlimited data and voice” plans are being discounted 25-30% from last month’s pricing. That’s great for subscribers and smartphone suppliers, but more challenges for operators. A recent Deutsche Bank Securities report (1/19/10) on the issue provides context worth noting:

“First, lower prices mean more phones. That is good for companies with exposure to handset volumes. Qualcomm is at the top of that list, as they supply basebands for all of Verizon’s phones and probably the majority of AT&T’s as well.” And – “All of this should be good for smartphone vendors and their suppliers.”

An increase in subscribers as a result of more smartphones and pricing bundles means that networks must improve to handle even more data. Data usage over cellular networks has increased between 4,000 to 6,700 percent over the last 3 years and the trend continues (AT&T experienced 6,732% growth over the last 13 quarters). The good news is that subscribers love their 3G and 4G capable devices—which is great for short term revenue but may impact year-over-year churn. See a very good blog post by Rory Cellan-Jones from BBC and note the many reader comments (“The 3G Traffic Jam – Where Next?”).

The bad news is that the networks were built for voice “busy hour” where 90 percent network capacity utilization meant effective use of the network. Context for consideration: data traffic over an office LAN rarely confronts ‘max’ capacity because the rule of thumb for Ethernet LANs states that “average bandwidth usage level should not exceed 30 percent for an Ethernet network to be considered running optimally, with peak usage at 50-60 percent.”

Mobile operators want happy subscribers and are working hard to augment the existing macro RAN with software upgrades and other solutions to improve the experience. This is a network capacity problem that can only be solved by adding more effective means of transporting several hundreds of millions of terabytes (soon a zettabyte) of data to and from the cell sites and deploying “hotspot” radio networks where data consumption takes place (indoor, office/campus, dense metro areas, etc.).

The net impact of the success of smartphones means that network operators must find ways to handle data offload with and without licensed spectrum and leverage Ethernet LAN where it’s feasible. Both Wi-Fi and HSPA will play a role as inside-out deployments of networks emerge, finding ways to keep Opex and Capex under control as millions of new subscribers rush to the stores to get the latest smartphone and low-cost “all you can eat” consumer pricing plans.

Follow us on twitter at Spidercloud_Inc.

Ronny A. Haraldsvik
Vice President of Marketing