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



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