D2E Sales Arrives

June 20, 2017


Direct to Enterprise sales of small cell RAN systems, while not new, differ from legacy approaches such as Distributed Antenna Systems, aka DAS. In past posts, we have explored the advantages of both small cell capacity and the corporate swing back to a primary operator. Those two advantages and Direct to Enterprise “D2E” sales channels drove creation of SpiderCloud’s Frequency Agile LTE SCRN-220 Radio Node for the Enterprise RAN “E-RAN” platform.

In many early D2E conversations with enterprise VARs and enterprises, the complaint of the RAN being “locked-in” (the band cannot be altered) to a particular operator was raised. In enterprises that enjoy stable long-term relationships with their operators, lock-in is not an issue. They manage their primary operator via competitive RFP every four to five years to optimize pricing and business terms, but don’t change to a different primary operator. However, it became apparent that many enterprise IT/Telecom leaders we met with wanted an agile RAN for two main reasons:

  • They believe that they can negotiate a better contract with their primary operator because the small cell RAN can be re-configured for a new primary operator instead of replaced. This reduced switching cost enables the enterprise to bargain from a better position.
  • If IT/Procurement decides to switch primary operators, the small cell RAN supporting enterprise mobility will not become a stranded asset due to its inability to be re-configured. This type of finance issue can damage the business case.

SpiderCloud has addressed the need for frequency agility in the United States D2E market with the introduction of the Frequency Agile LTE SCRN-220 Radio Node. This breakthrough Radio Node is an enterprise-grade LTE small cell that can be software configured for the major USA bands supporting the four Tier-1 mobile operators. LTE Bands supported are 2 (1900 PCS), 25 (1900 Plus), 4 (AWS-1), 66 (AWS-3), 12 (700 A) & 13 (700 C) with channel widths of 5, 10, 15 and 20 Mhz.

In summary, SpiderCloud has created the Frequency Agile LTE small cell that satisfies the requirement for that agility to the E-RAN platform. By collaborating with our mobile operators and cutting edge enterprises, we continue to innovate both the E-RAN and the Go-To-Market model in the D2E space. At the end of the day, enterprise IT customers envision their wireless ecosystem as a balanced diet of enterprise-owned Wi-Fi and LTE that seamlessly satisfies the present and future needs of the broad spectrum (pun intended) of subscribers, from IT to non-technical business leaders.

Pro-tip: ask other small cell vendors who have approached you about software reconfiguring their radios for different bands. If they can’t do it, you should look elsewhere.

SCRN-220 Press Release

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

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


Why Capacity and User Experience Matters

August 10, 2015

In our last posting on Single Cell Architectures vs. Scalable Small Cells, we explored the importance of handovers between cells as a key component of scaling capacity. We’ll now review a project that set out to explore the claimed benefits of SpiderCloud Wireless E-RAN scalable small cells system in a live network setting and share the results.

Let’s setup the context of the project:

  • Three-story building with installed LTE DAS system.
  • About 200 employees per floor.
  • No complaints of service or performance issues.
  • Operator offered one floor to disable DAS and implement the E-RAN in its place to prove the viability of the technology.

In order to proceed with the project, a walk of the candidate floor was conducted to collect our baseline DAS performance data. For the overall floor, we measured an average of 23.9 Mbps on the LTE downlink.

The project proceeded forward by disabling the DAS infrastructure on the candidate floor, and replacing with an E-RAN. The system supported the LTE needs of the users on that floor for the trial period. Data and metrics were continuously collected so the overall system performance could be evaluated at end of the project.

At end of project, and before the DAS system was returned to service on the floor, a second walk of the floor was conducted to collect our E-RAN performance data. The same path and collection tool was used to re-survey for average throughput. For the overall floor, we measured an average of 60.9 Mbps on the LTE downlink. That is a 255% increase in average downlink rate based on the measured DAS downlink average of 23.9 Mbps.

Finally, the daily consumption data was collected and charted. Our operator was both surprised and pleased by the results. Why? The data consumption on the E-RAN equipped floor was 57% higher than with the DAS system. As the chart below illustrates, the single E-RAN floor was driving more traffic than the other two floors combined.


  • Faster downlink performance increased data consumption by over 50%. Customer satisfaction with the performance improvement encouraged more usage by mobile owners.
  • For mobile operators, increases in data consumption can either raise customer loyalty or translate into revenue.
  • Just because a DAS system appears to be operating normally, there can be significant financial and performance improvements by replacing it with scalable small cells. For DAS owners planning for re-design driven by LTE needs, it is wise to consider adding scalable small cells alongside the legacy technology instead of making additional DAS capital investments.

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

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

Single Cell Architectures vs. Scalable Small Cells

August 3, 2015

Now that SpiderCloud has proved that operators and enterprises are looking for an alternative to DAS in the medium to large enterprise market, quite a few companies are trying to enter this market. A number of them offer a solution that have a centralized baseband unit, connected to radio heads throughout the building over dedicated cabling. These companies then claim that these “cloud RAN” products are better than enterprise small cell products because they eliminate handovers between radio heads.

Is handover such a bad thing in a cellular network? Is it something that you want to eliminate?  To us, this sounds like a really strange idea. Inter-cell handover has been the basis of cellular networks for three decades, from the time the first commercial cellular system was launched in October 1983, till today. Before you finish reading this blog post, cellular systems around the world would have successfully done more than a billion handovers!

What handovers enable is capacity. Properly implemented and reliable handovers help cellular networks scale, serve more subscribers, deliver more minutes, bits, bytes, music, video, you name it. According to AT&T, in 1965, before the introduction of handover in the cellular network, 2,000 subscribers in New York City shared 12 channels (on a single cell), and typically waited 30 minutes to place a call.

So the real question is not whether a small cell system does handovers, but whether it does handovers reliably. SpiderCloud’s scalable small cell system is designed to do handover really, really well. We have published our KPIs, both for 3G and LTE, in the past. Operators who chose to trial our system can see it for themselves. See our published KPI information for 3G and 3G+4G.

Our competitors might look at the KPIs we have published and claim that they have found a smoking gun. They will say, “Look! SpiderCloud systems drop calls 0.5% of the time, we never do so”. They are right, even with SpiderCloud, handovers sometimes fail. Handovers, by the way, fail in every macro network. So, what should an operator do? Go back to a single transmitter serving New York City? As an operator, do you care about delivering capacity, or about eliminating low-probability handover failures?

Finally, if an operator really does not care about capacity, does not mind installing dedicated cabling, has a very large capital budget and just wants to deliver signal inside the building with no handover failure, well, why not use DAS – the original “single-cell” system?  One mobile service provider did a trial to answer exactly this question. They had a three floor office building that was covered with a DAS system (and a dedicated base station). They turned off the DAS on one floor, and replaced it with SpiderCloud’s LTE E-RAN system. You will be surprised to learn what they did… in the next blog post.

– Amit Jain, Vice President of Marketing & Product Management
Twitter: @SpiderCloud_Inc

“…Just Another Brick In the Wall”?

December 12, 2014

I first heard this song in early December ’79, just after its release, now 35 years ago. We have all rebelled against something or someone at one part in our lives. “We don’t need no thought control” and “Hey! teacher! leave us kids alone!” — Pink Floyd’s music was relevant back then, and it’s relevant now. Roger Waters’s song (Education, Part II) is a protest song against rigid schooling in general and boarding schools.

Behind the brick wall, when you look beyond the one-page “Wall Mounting Kit” for easy to install radio heads (Huawei or Ericsson) you will find the undisclosed pages 2 through 99, and a long list of items needed to make radio heads (DAS) work.

Beyond the simple radio head, you’ll find dedicated cables (CPRI or Cat7a) that are connected to Indoor Radio Units (IRU), which then connects to dedicated Digital Units (DU) with maximum 12 sectors (IRU) per DU for each access technology (LTE or 3G). Each IRU connects to a DU via Fiber and the DU then connects back to the Ericsson RNC (for 3G), or the LTE EPC. Keep in mind that CPRI or Cat7a is not basic Ethernet. Nor can Radio DOT be deployed using existing Ethernet (via VLAN). It takes special handling and expertise to handle Fiber or Cat 7a cables. If you are deploying Radio Dot, Cat7a is not exactly a commonly used cable inside the Enterprise, and can cost 3-4x more per cable than Cat 5/6.

When you are maintaining or deploying DAS, your list of equipment is quite long. A plan could include over 30 different components, special cables and modules.

  • Coax, connectors, splitters or special cabling (Cat7a) which requires special handling
  • Cross band couplers, optical interfaces, boosters, housing panels, etc.
  • Master unit for optical Tx/Rx
  • Power supply and low power ‘Point of Interface’ or you may need Active DAS Tray Point of Interface
  • Male and Female connectors
  • Omni antennas, directional, MIMO or SIS0 directional
  • Coax cables and support for various type of mounts (roof, ceiling, basement, etc.), weatherproofing, sealant, etc.
  • Fiber Extenders
  • Sub-rack for the DC Remote PSU Modules
  • Tri-plexer for each access method
  • Accessory kits and stacking kits, etc.
  • AC/DC Converters for 66W or 100W
  • Fan Modules
  • And then there are the attenuators… and so on – It’s a long list

Cabling the Bricks in the Wall

On the outside, a CPRI or Cat7a cable may look similar to Cat-5/6 Ethernet, but make no mistake, it’s not. It takes a specialist to handle this, and enterprise people know this. IT people cringe when special cables are involved. Why?

Certain cables cannot be bent, crushed or “stressed”. Every cable has values for minimum bend radius and maximum “tensile loading”. (Yes – look it up if you need a good night’s sleep). Some special cables cannot hang freely for long distances or press against edges in an installation. Example: When pulling cable in conduit, all transition points must be kept smooth. In short, every cable must be treated like a baby!

As for the installation, this is where it becomes “fun.” Conduit runs are limited to 100 feet! And, you cannot have more than two 90-degree bends between pull points or boxes! Even working at night, conducting core drilling between floors for conduits with jam-packed risers in-building is also a logistics nightmare. Yes, you heard me. Electronic Industries Association/Telecommunications Industry Association 569, which is the Commercial Building Standard for Telecommunications Pathways and Spaces, even provides more granular details, if you care to find out.

And then there are building codes for optical-fiber cables, keeping in mind maximum recommended distance between main and intermediate cross-connects (4920 feet), and intermediate and horizontal cross-connects recommendations. Single-mode fiber has other regulations. In some cases, telecoms equipment is connected directly to an intermediate or main cross-connect, where connecting cables can be no longer than 98 feet.

We could go on and on. The point is, CPRI is not Ethernet. It’s not simple Cat5/6 Ethernet pull. You need experts. See a good installation checklist overview here.

“Designed by R&D for use in Labs”

If you are contemplating Ericsson’s Radio Dot, keep in mind that you will need lots of Radio Dots and special Cat7a cabling to each of the Dots to power the 100mw radio heads. To “home run” each radio Dot over Cat 7 to/from the Indoor Remote Unit (IRU) means big install cost and several racks of equipment in the data center (Enterprise), considering you can only power 8 Radio Dots per IRU (LTE or 3G) and up to 12 IRU per DU. Each 14-unit rack powers a maximum of 96 Cat7a connected 100mw Radio Heads (or 48 LTE and 48 3G 100mw radio heads). Radio Heads by access technology: If you need 3G and LTE, then you need 2 Radio Heads (one each) which means double the amount of Cat7a cable pull. In brief, 3G+LTE means two full racks (14U each) of equipment if you require maximum reach with 96 100mw radio heads for 3G and LTE coverage. Of course, you will need special installation teams since this is a complicated installation.  Each rack (14u each) limits a 3G + LTE DAS coverage (48 3G + 48 100mw radios) to a maximum 250 to 300,000 square feet. A dual-band deployment would require two full racks, and total 110-120 100mw radios, each with a Cat7a cable pull. So, when you see the Radio Dot, you may think it’s simple.  When you understand what is needed behind the wall to power the Dot, you’ll question the establishment just like Pink Floyd. You’ll soon find out that ideas designed by R&D, for use in labs, may not be suitable in real-life enterprise environments.

Ericsson image of Radio DOT posted on Twitter.
Also see http://www.ericsson.com/thecompany/press/mediakits/radio-dot-system

The IT Friendly Approach

SpiderCloud Wireless has an IT-friendly approach with E-RAN.  The E-RAN system is proven to scale to 100 Radio Nodes (sectors), all powered over Ethernet LAN (or VLAN) with one Services Node, which provides one secure connection to the mobile core. First to market with a dual-mode 3G/4G system, the SCRN-310 Dual-band Radio Node has been in commercial networks since June 2014. It’s the first small cell, as part of a larger system, that’s capable of connecting 32 active users via the 3G band, while at the same time connecting 32 active users (128 RRC) via the LTE band (on one integrated SoC). The same Radio Node can now be software upgraded to switch the 3G band to 4G, making it capable of dual-band 4G+4G (150 Mbps), connecting 64 active users via the same Radio Node.

A dual-band 3G+4G deployment using SpiderCloud would only require one Services Node (1 unit in a rack) and require 25-30 SCRN-310 Radio Nodes (250 mw). The cost advantage for equipment and installation (as compared to Ericsson or Huawei) vs. DAS (radio heads) is 4-5x!

The Radio Node has a pedestal base that slides into a long bracket for ceiling or wall mounting. SpiderCloud Wireless pre-bolts the pedestal base onto the extrusion plate on the Radio Node.

Radio Nodes can be mounted on a wide number of surfaces including the following typical surfaces:

  • • Light grill: Use bolts, nuts and washers to secure the mount bracket using holes in the light grill. Adjust the mounting bracket until the bracket and light grill holes align.
  • • Mount directly on the wall or ceiling: Use drywall screws to secure the mount bracket directly to sheetrock or plasterboard on the wall or ceiling.

Installing a small cell should be as easy as installing a basic enterprise Wi-Fi AP, such as using a T-rail ceiling rail to avoid drilling holes in ceiling tiles.

The Radio Node is fully compliant with the IEEE 802.3at Power Over Ethernet (PoE+) specification. Per IEEE 802.3at, use standard Cat 5e, or better, twisted-pair cable with a maximum length restriction of 100 meters (328 feet) for PoE+.

Power is distributed over two pairs of the four available pairs in Cat 5e or better cables. The Radio Node can accept power on either used, or un-used pairs.

Usage of Ethernet LAN Deployment

By usage of standard enterprise Ethernet and a Radio Node installation process that is familiar with the very large pool of Wi-Fi trained installation companies, the cost of physical installation is significantly reduced as compared to telecommunications technologies that require specialized labor.

The optimal installations share the existing enterprise transport infrastructure to enable faster installation, and reduce capital construction costs for materials.

See the 60-second installation video: http://youtu.be/Q8V070ggyuA

SpiderCloud’s Self Organizing Network (SON) capability configures and optimizes the small cell network to provide a high-performance mobile broadband coverage with very little user intervention. SON is a core product feature that dramatically reduces installation time, fine-tunes the network for high performance, and periodically optimizes the environment to maintain effective network operation. Without this feature, an installer would have to setup the network manually, requiring many weeks (depending on the network complexity) to create an optimal working configuration. However, as a result of this unique feature, the system is auto configured in less than an hour, thereby automating a fairly complex configuration and dramatically reducing the time-to-install.

See the 60-second installation video: http://youtu.be/Q8V070ggyuA

Besides reducing time-to-install, the feature ensures optimal RF coverage and handoff within the SpiderCloud network, and with macro and inter-RAT networks. During network operation, this feature continually monitors the RF environment, makes adjustments to the radio transmit power to adapt to any changes in the RF conditions, and maintains optimal network access.

No More “thought control”

So, if you agree, “We don’t need no thought control” and you’d want an IT-friendly approach to fixing in-building coverage and capacity, easy as Wi-Fi, — then you too can protest against rigid cabling and installation procedures. You have a choice. If you plan to install something in an Enterprise, look to the companies which know and understand enterprise IT requirements.

The E-RAN 3G system is already commercially proven for three years. Other SpiderCloud Wireless customers include Vodafone UK, Vodafone Netherlands, and now also Verizon Wireless, plus leading mobile operators across several continents.

Ronny Haraldsvik

Twitter: haraldsvik

Don’t forget to sign up for the December 18th Intel-SpiderCloud Webinar: “In-Building Small Cell Services Opportunities for Enterprise IT and Mobile Operators” – hosted by HeavyReading.






Small Cell “Super Bass-O-Matic’76”?

October 7, 2014

“Alrighty then,” you say.  Already you’re wondering where this will take us?  In keeping with the 70s theme from our last blog (An Abba tune from ’77 “Take a chance on me” – DAS Dot One Year Later), in this blog we take a look under the hood of another Ericsson “way ahead” announcement, the RBS 6402 (Radio BS).

Much like the famous Super Bass-O-Matic ’76 from SNL, the Radio BS promises to deliver many things. Yes, “the days of troublesome scaling, cutting and gutting are over, because Super Bass-o-Matic ’76 is the tool that lets you use existing radios and technologies” with no “waste, and without scaling, cutting or gutting“. Yes, it’s that simple!”

The RBS 6402 is a high-performance indoor multi-standard/mixed-mode – LTE, WCDMA and Wi-Fi – small cell with carrier aggregation that delivers 300 Mbps LTE.”

Now, disregard PR, Web site marketing, and PowerPoint and let’s look at some of the claims and consider the realities of manufacturing and deploying small cells over enterprise Ethernet:

Radio BS Claims:

  • 3G + Dual LTE + Wi-Fi
  • With 2 x 250 mw transmit power, R-BS 6402 claims it will cover 5,000 sq. m. (or > 50,000 sq. ft.) powered over Ethernet
  • Carrier aggregation (2 x 20 MHz) and supports for 10 bands

Facts & Realities:

  • PoE+ has a power limit of 25.5 W. Average amount available at the access point is ~23 W
  • On average, running 4 PAs at 250 mw, requires ~10W of power (typical power efficiency of a RF front end is ~10%). This leaves just 13 W for running the baseband and everything else.
  • The R-BS supports 10 bands: So, you would think from the PR that the small cell is a multi-operator small cell that supports 10 simultaneous bands. This is simply wrong.
  • Ericsson has to use one of their macro-cell DSPs if they want to run their existing PHY software, plus an additional processor for higher-layer eNB software.
  • The R-BS marketing makes it look like the product can do 3G _AND_ 2 carriers of LTE. But, doing so requires three RF front-ends, something that even Ericsson is not claiming to do. So, the best-case scenario is that the R-BS 6402 can operate as 3G + LTE, or dual-carrier LTE. We know because of our SpiderCloud SCRN-310. The award-winning dual-band Radio Node was announced October 2013 and it shipped commercially (and installed) in operators’ networks in June 2014. One caveat, we use Broadcom’s industry-leading single System-on-a-Chip (SoC) with our own software on top. See more about the build-up of the RN310 and our KPIs.

Questions customers should be asking:

  • What else does an operator need to purchase to use the RBS 6402?
  • How does the small cell connect to the core? There is no mention of any HeNB gateway. Direct connect to EPC via a security gateway of sorts? (Ericsson does not support iuh).
  • Is Ericsson going to build a new HeNB GW (LTE femto gateway)? Or will they directly connect all these small cells to the EPC? What is the end-to-end architecture? When will the missing pieces show up?
  • Is Wi-Fi a module? Are they using the outdoor BelAir portfolio indoors? Any dual-band Wi-Fi module needs 10-12W of power. Where is that coming from? Perhaps a second Ethernet cable pull and a DC power is required?
  • Does the 6402 really offer simultaneous operation in 1 carrier of UMTS, 2 carriers of LTE with carrier aggregation and 2 bands (2.4/5.8) of Wi-Fi? In other words, simultaneous transmission in 5 frequency bands, as PR suggests?
  • If the answer is yes, then note that the PoE+ standard (IEEE 802.3 at) specifies a maximum draw of 25.5 W? An Ericsson Wi-Fi AP alone consumes ~12W of power…”just saying.”
  • When working within the PoE+ budget, can the R-BS even do two carriers of LTE, with each band operating at 2 x 250 mw?  Or will it be only one carrier of LTE when PoE+ is being used?
  • How many simultaneous bands does the R-BS actually support when operational?
  • Can the 6402 really cover 5,000 sq. m. (~55,000 sq. ft.) in an average enterprise with cubicles, private offices, conference rooms, walls, obstructions, elevators etc.?  Or, is 5,000 sq. m. a number based on some kind of ideal environment (which is rarely, never the case when deploying)?
  • How is this small cell synchronized with the macro network? No mention of GPS or any other synchronization technique?
  • When will the new R-BS 6402 be FCC certified (for sale in the USA. No submissions yet)? And, while you’re at it, ask ‘when’ the DOT and related products will be FCC certified (for sale in the USA) too…

You see, it’s tough to squeeze 3G+Wi-Fi+LTE within 8-10W with the current Radio BS approach. It may happen one day or sometime late 2016? Whaaaat?  You mean, yet another announcement where the commercial product is not available for 15-18 months?

All puns aside, Ericsson’s RBS 6402 looks like an indoor small cells capable of doing 2 carrier of LTE OR 1 carrier of 3G and 1 carrier of LTE.

In that sense, it is mimicking SpiderCloud’s SCRN-310. So, since our 310 Radio Node has been shipping since June 2014, we find it odd that Ericsson claims a “first” with the Radio BS. Much like the DOT (See new SpiderCloud-vs-DOT video), this may be another delay-the-market tactic. For now, lots of hot air and more Radio BS?

So, if the Super Bass-O-Matic sounds cool to you, then you’re in for “quite a rush. You’ll never have to scale, cut or gut again!”

Ronny Haraldsvik, SVP/CMO (@haraldsvik)

– Amit Jain, VP of Product Management

Twitter: @SpiderCloud_Inc

Business productivity with an inside-out mobility system

August 12, 2013

Mobility drives improved efficiency and productivity.  Having the ability to work anywhere in a building is only as good as the reliability of the network. Poor indoor coverage and capacity is a growing headache.  IT managers are now turning to their mobile operator to fix the problem. In fact, 61% of IT decision makers from businesses with 250+ employees say that their businesses have struggled with indoor coverage and capacity, and of these, 73% of people had taken steps to address the issue by contacting their mobile operator.

The challenges operators faced when deploying an indoor mobile network can be broadly summarized with: time, cost and complexities.  Speed is of the essence to satisfy the business needs of customers, yet traditional methods of improving indoor coverage take too long to deploy and are too expensive.  For example, installing a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) can take months, if not years, due to local city and building approval cycles, Radio Frequency Planning, etc. It is very costly and involves high complexity, so the solution is not viable for many enterprises. Over the next 5-8 years, DAS will become less relevant for broadband connectivity inside buildings. It is an old technology approach that extends a signal inside a building with unnecessary complexity that adds excessive cost and time to network project plans.

Small cells are an increasingly attractive option for operators, as shown by recent statement partnerships like Qualcomm’s $100 million investment in Alcatel Lucent and Cisco’s even more dramatic $2 billion acquisitions spree.  However, coordinating networks and applying self-optimising network (SON) technology in a small cell environment is very different than dealing with a macro cellular environment. Nokia Siemens Networks, Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson all experienced this when they tried to convert their macro experience into an indoor environment. The experience has to be seamless, accounting for real-time factors such as network congestion and device preferences. In addition it has to be interoperable with other gateways, certified on carrier networks and highly scalable beyond a “mesh” of just 3-5 small cells.

Furthermore, dense indoor networks present several technological challenges. Experience shows the indoor Radio Frequency (RF) environment becomes increasingly complex and challenging as the density of the deployment increases. This is particularly true in multi-story buildings where mobile devices experience a three-dimensional RF environment. A single handset is able to see a very large number of small cells, some on its own floor and others from floors above and below it in buildings with open atriums and in campus areas. A device may experience as many as 3-5 handover events per minute and the radio signal inside buildings experiences flat fading, which means that even a stationary handset sees signal from individual and uncoordinated small cells fluctuate.  Without a central coordination point, or support for soft handoff, such network deployments will experience unacceptable call drop rates.

A scalable small cell system overcomes these obstacles while simplifying the installation process with self-optimizing and self-organizing software, and has the ability to scale to support 100 Multi-access small cells (up to 10,000 devices) with just one services node connection to the operator’s core network. Our very own scalable multi-access 3G, Wi-Fi and 4G/LTE small cell system allows mobile operators to deliver unprecedented cellular coverage, capacity and smart applications to enterprises. The scalable system architecture simplifies deployment and overall network configuration for mobile operators.  Overall, the system provides uninterrupted, trouble-free mobile data and voice services.

Beyond reliable indoor coverage and capacity, a scalable system also gives operators the capability to deliver hosted and managed services over its SCSN for mobility, unified communications (UC), secure access to applications, device management and integration of cloud and telephony (PBX), as well as new context-aware and location-based services.  Exact Ventures recently found that the managed mobility services market presents a $100 billion opportunity to operators, and that enterprises can save 35% a year by adopting such operator-delivered managed and hosted services.

Much as Wi-Fi exploded on the scene 10 years ago and over time segmented into residential and commercial markets in response to differing demands, small cells look set to follow the same trajectory.  Stand-alone small cells are made for homes and small businesses, whereas a system like SpiderCloud’s Enterprise RAN (E-RAN) is made to scale and designed to achieve high-performance mobility so vital to business productivity.

Ronny Haraldsvik SVP/CMO
Twitter: haraldsvik

Part 3 of 4: “Available Technologies”

July 21, 2011

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

In the previous blog we examined who was going to pay for the In-Building solution, but what technologies are there and what are their benefits?

DAS Systems

For very large buildings (where the entire building is outfitted all-at-once), systems have been, and will probably continue to be, DAS systems due to the wide band nature of operation, unless some new technology can offer an alternative. DAS is expensive, with the difference between active and passive DAS being really dependent on the length of cable required between the NodeB/BTS and the actual antenna. Anything over 100-150 meters (300-500 feet) and you need to look at active DAS.

Active DAS is of course even more expensive, and uses a Fiber connection from a DAS master unit to a DAS remote radio head, so the Fiber is effectively lossless from a radio point of view. But DAS systems are essentially static deployments. You run cables from the Master unit to the Radio heads. Then you run cable from the radio head to the antennas, and tune the system. Adds, moves and changes are not simple or cheap. The inputs to a DAS system are either Radio Base Stations/Node B’s or Radio Repeaters. Both of these options require the Operator to provide, install and maintain these systems. DAS needs to be RF planned, rolled out, optimized and measured for Operator in building KPI requirements, all of which are labor, time and cost intensive processes.

Prepare to pay anywhere between $1 to $2 per Square foot just for deployment/install (which does not include the operator’s radio equipment, backhaul and operation).


Until quite recently, radio repeaters were used by mobile operators as a method for extending macro coverage to rural areas, but now they are appearing more and more in urban areas, specifically for enterprise customers.

Whilst the concept of having a radio repeater to either re-radiate indoors or to feed a DAS system sounds straight forward, there are many technical considerations which make the installation of a repeater an expensive and labor intensive procedure.

  1. The repeater must have an antenna installed with sufficient front to back ratio or side lobe suppression to ensure that the repeater sees a strong PSC that is at least 4-6dB above the next strongest.
  2. The antenna must then be installed and the attenuation matched so as to balance the uplink and downlink, and to ensure that the power amplifier of the repeater does not “blast” the donor macro cell.
  3. If the mobile operator’s network is a multicarrier system (which it usually is) you must also consider the case of an inter-carrier handover. Will the repeater re-radiate both carriers? What would happen if the repeater is telling the mobile device that the second carrier should be available for handover (as it is in the macro), but the repeater is not amplifying the second carrier? The result is lots of “call failure.”

This all requires (expensive) planning and installation by a skilled engineer.

Adding a repeater does not add capacity to the macro cell or to the enterprise itself. It merely “saves” capacity by overcoming in building penetration. There are also issues with repeaters where the front end admits the entire UMTS band into the pre-amplifier, but then only amplifies a single carrier. Automatic Gain control can kick in and desensitize the receiver by amplifying a near Node B on another carrier.

Also, as the repeater has a finite power budget, the combined output power of all UE’s are limited by the repeater. So many UE’s that are being repeated may not be able to access the higher order modulation schemes (higher throughput) as the repeater would simply not have enough uplink power. So repeaters are not such a straight forward solution as some may think.

We should also mention here that there are a number of newer technology repeaters for the consumer/home/small office, which require an antenna to be placed in a window or with a low price antenna and cable. These devices are typically not of sufficient capacity for enterprise requirements and are usually a single frequency/single low power radio repeater.


What about stand-alone Femtos and their applicability within the enterprise?

Femtocells are a cost effective method of providing limited coverage and services to a small number of users, or a small/home office. They are a small cell technology, which provides coverage to approximately 500m2 of floor space, are provided by the mobile operator, use the customer’s IP backhaul to connect to the core network and usually have a restricted list of mobile phone numbers that are able to use the service. Due to this “white list” of allowed users, RF interference with the macro network can actually make performance worse for non white-list users. Femtocells typically serve 4-8 users per cell in a consumer/small/home office environment.

So, whilst Femtos may be acceptable as a single small cell, they suffer from an inability to scale to larger numbers in an office environment.

The cost of the femtocell itself is not really indicative of the cost of providing the entire solution, and many other aspects need to be considered, such as planning, maintenance, support etc. Many of the issues associated with deploying a large number of femtocells in an enterprise environment have already been learnt from the experience of deploying Wi-Fi in the enterprise.

Controller Based Solutions

Around 2000, Wi-Fi in the home first became popular, and as end users became familiar with its un-tethered advantages, home Wi-Fi routers made their way into the enterprise. This was acceptable at first, but issues rapidly emerged with scalability, enterprise security and user access, interference, management and planning for a large deployment.

To address these challenges, Wi-Fi switches or controllers are now standard in any deployment where multiple Wi-Fi routers are needed. This controller based approach is now starting to appear in the Femto space.

Having a controller based approach, as opposed to multiple stand-alone femtocells or a mesh/grid approach, also enables many additional benefits for both the mobile operator and enterprise, such as the local offload of voice or data traffic, PBX integration, ease of installation/management, handover between radio nodes and self optimization.

The Enterprise-RAN (E-RAN)

This brings us to SpiderCloud Wireless “Enterprise Radio Access Network (E-RAN) architecture and system.

The E-RAN system is a controller based approach to providing small cell UMTS services to an enterprise by providing operators with the opportunity to rapidly and cost effectively deploy capacity and coverage.

The Services Node controls up to 50 Radio Nodes each (each Radio Node supporting 16 voice and data users). By using this controller based approach, the E-RAN minimizes the planning, installation, optimization and management requirements of the system, and at the same time enable additional services to the Enterprise such as integration into IP-PBX, AAA systems, the Enterprise Intranet and at the same time provides secure access for guest users.

The Services Node also actively manages the Radio environment in the enterprise to ensure the maximum available coverage and capacity of the system, along with ensuring seamless inter Radio Node soft handoff and handoff to or from the macro network.

Next blog will focus on “What Does the Enterprise (IT Manager) Want?”

Christian Derrick
Technical Director

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

E-RAN for On-Campus Mobile Network Services

July 20, 2011

Today‘s 3G customers can consume up towards 5Gb+ per month with 60-70% of all mobile data and voice usage taking place indoors. Given the rate of bandwidth consumption and the growth of indoor cellular usage, it has become business critical to manage capacity smarter. This capacity dilemma is not easily solved by adding more macro cell sites outside to blast inside considering the expense and inefficiencies of deployment in this manner.

Campuses of all sizes require reliable cellular coverage, yet for most, it hasn‘t been a possibility because of the way cellular services are currently delivered–from the outside in. Whether cellular services are used for voice or data, campuses need a better solution. Outdoor cellular signals face numerous issues and challenges penetrating buildings and providing reliable voice or data communication access – often to thousands of people located in very dense areas.

Educational Facilities: Wireless IT Challenges

Campus IT systems support a variety of networks to support communication over desktop phones, computers and laptops (Wi-Fi). If Wi-Fi is present, then free or paid-for access includes Smartphones such as iPhones and Blackberries. Let‘s review some of the challenges faced by IT staff on campus:

  • Everyone is a mobile worker or mobile student
  • Everyone has a mobile phone but coverage and capacity are not reliable.
  • Voice: whether essential staff are in the office or not, each office is wired for desktop voice at a CapEx of $300 to $700 with monthly OpEx ranging from $5 to $10
  • Wi-Fi network: Every 75-100 feet, an 802.11abgn system is in use sporadically to provide reliable data access only for students, faculty and staff.
  • Universities and extension sites are increasingly using ?hotel cube rather than offices and thus a mobile office (cell phone) is becoming increasingly important for them.
  • IT departments are constrained due to budgets, resources and access to qualified personnel who understand unlicensed or licensed RF planning.
  • Convergence of networks is of great interest: PBX integration with mobile devices, and the migration away from desktop phones.
  • Predictable mobile voice charging: No surprise bills from the operator.

Current Cellular Solutions: Costly and Cumbersome

DAS, PicoCell and femtocell solutions are either too costly and require site and/or network planning or cannot scale to the demands of hundreds to thousands of fully-mobile subscribers. Existing solutions can either handle voice well or fixed data access– but not robust mobile voice and broadband inside a campus. The cost of adding macro-based cell sites with the associated deployment costs can be prohibitive, possibly leaving universities underserved with reliable 3G capacity and coverage inside As a result, only a very few large education facilities receive the attention of large mobile operators.

SpiderCloud Wireless Offers a New Approach

Educational facilities are not tapping into the revenue potential they have. The student population (500 to 25,000 in some cases) presents a revenue sharing opportunity with mobile device and subscriber plans – including flat rate campus zone billing. A dedicated 3G network deployed inside or on campus can provide reliable voice coverage and can augment existing Wi-Fi systems to better handle peaks in data consumption or to provide cost effective coverage while offering subscribers and employees reliable voice and data coverage throughout the campus. The challenges facing IT staff are whether or not to install and manage this network by themselves through the use of Fixed-Mobile-Convergence infrastructure, special devices or applications – or sign up for a wireless platform service from a mobile operator.

SpiderCloud Wireless, Inc. is a developer of wireless technologies and the pioneer of the Enterprise Radio Access Network (E-RAN) platform Based on a new vision for RAN architecture, the SmartCloud E-RAN solution enables mobile operators to deliver coverage and capacity from the inside out for campuses of all sizes.

Ronny A. Haraldsvik
Vice President of Marketing