Lions and Tigers and LTE! Oh My!

February 21, 2017

SpiderCloud will be at Mobile World Congress next week. Here is a preview of what we will be discussing with customers, partners and industry analysts.

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More LTE Capacity Where You Need It

It is no secret that SpiderCloud believes that one of the best ways to add capacity to mobile networks is to build LTE small cell networks inside buildings. When you move a thousand weekend shoppers to an indoor SpiderCloud network, you not only delight them, you free up the macro network to delight thousands of subscribers outdoors. Simple! Even better, enterprises and buildings want indoor cellular and welcome operators who are willing to provide it with open arms, especially operators that can offer an enterprise IT friendly SpiderCloud system. To prove it, we are heading to Barcelona with a chest full of case studies.

Operators that have experienced the ease of deployment and scalability of our system are now taking it into new applications. They are taking SpiderCloud E-RAN beyond offices to significant public venues like hospitals, hotels, universities and airports. These are venues where just a few years ago, the common wisdom was, “small cells will never satisfy the venue’s requirements.” They are also taking it to small buildings, like retail outlets and betting parlors – buildings that once were considered too small for our products.

And that is not all. In buildings where distributed antenna systems are still required (to support multiple operators, legacy technologies like GSM or CDMA, or public safety), SpiderCloud E-RAN is now being used as an alternative to pico and macro eNBs from Nokia and Ericsson. See recent story in RCR Wireless on how Verizon has asked its five DAS suppliers to partner with SpiderCloud. DAS companies finally have a low-cost, high-capacity, easy to deploy “signal source” that can help them sell more DAS systems to enterprises.

E-RAN – Now Starring Unlicensed Spectrum

We don’t plan to rest on our laurels anytime soon. At MWC 2017, we will be showcasing our new enterprise LTE small cell that aggregates licensed and unlicensed spectrum, using LTE-U and LAA. This new small cell, called SCRN-320, is first to integrate a Wi-Fi chipset that detects Wi-Fi preamble messages and informs Wi-Fi access points about its intent to use the channel. We have developed new SON technology to dynamically sense the Wi-Fi environment throughout the building, and use this information to centrally assign unlicensed channels to small cells. SpiderCloud E-RAN, now starring SCRN-320, may be the first and only system that can co-exist with ad-hoc Wi-Fi networks in large venues like shopping malls and airports, and deliver even more capacity where it is needed.

The Brave New World of Authorized Shared Spectrum

Globally, regulators are looking at ways to make underutilized spectrum available for mobile broadband while protecting the rights of incumbent users. The US FCC is leading the way by making 150 MHz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band available for small cell deployment under a shared spectrum strategy called Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), and we are actively investing in building products for this spectrum.

At MWC2017, we will show a live demo of our CBRS indoor small cells, operating as 3.5 GHz LTE-TDD. We will also explain how SpiderCloud’s Services Node connects to the Spectrum Access System (SAS) as Domain Proxy and use its enhanced SON capabilities to assign CBRS channels, boosting spectrum efficiency and performance. In addition, we will discuss a wide range of use cases for CBRS, from enterprise to outdoor, and single operator to neutral host.

A Pivotal Year Ahead for Small Cells

For small cells, the future’s so bright I gotta wear shades!

After years of hype, enterprise LTE small cells are finally real. Leading operators have integrated them in their networks, and are actively deploying them. New use cases are emerging for small cells. New spectrum is becoming available for them, from unlicensed to authorized shared access. And the industry is inventing new ways to use this spectrum, from LTE-LAA to MulteFire. We are excited, and we will not be shy in saying so.

SPIDERCLOUD @ MWC 2017

Speaking Engagements:

  • Tuesday at 9.30 am: Mike Gallagher, CEO, Interview with Mobile World Live TV
  • Tuesday at 12.15 pm: Art King, Director of Enterprise Services, panelist “Digital Enterprise & Employees” at MWC Conference in Hall 4, Auditorium
  • Tuesday at 3.20 pm: Amit Jain, VP Product Management, panelist “Business Opportunity for Cable Operators and Service Providers” at MWC Press Conference Room #1 in the Media Village. This is part of MulteFire event that runs from 2:00-4:00pm.

Glomo Awards:
SpiderCloud – USA National Rollout is nominated in Best Mobile Infrastructure Award category. Tuesday at 5.00 pm: Awards Ceremony in Hall 4, Auditorium 5. All are welcome to attend regardless of badge status.

If you’re attending MWC, we wish you success and fun in the controlled chaos.

Cheers from SpiderCloud Wireless!

http://spidercloud.com
@spidercloud_inc


LTE in Unlicensed Spectrum

April 4, 2016

placeholders-1Licensed spectrum is limited. Demand for mobile data is not. So what should a mobile operator do?

Of course, network densification via small cells should be the first step. And for small cells to have the biggest impact on the network, they must be deployed in locations where there are lots and lots of subscribers – locations such as indoor public venues. Once operators have committed to this path, they need to take the next step of supplementing their licensed spectrum with unlicensed spectrum.

There are two approaches to using LTE in unlicensed spectrum:

  1. Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) – In this approach, unlicensed spectrum is aggregated with licensed spectrum to boost LTE downlink speeds to up to 450 Mbps. LAA is being standardized by 3GPP in Release 13 (R13).
  2. MulteFire – In this approach, unlicensed spectrum alone is used to run LTE. No licensed spectrum is required. This approach is being developed by the MulteFire Alliance.

 

LTE-in-Unlicensed-1

LTE Licensed Assisted Access (LAA)

LAA is a great way to cost-effectively boost the coverage of LTE small cells. The licensed channel remains the primary carrier. This means that all high-priority traffic, such as voice or video calls, can still go over the licensed band. But when a subscriber wants to stream high-bandwidth video the small cell system can leverage available unlicensed spectrum.

LTE-in-Unlicensed-3

Notice how the decision of which spectrum to use – licensed or unlicensed – rests with the operator controlled LTE-LAA small cell. If the small cell detects that the Wi-Fi channel is extremely congested and unusable it can continue to service the user over licensed spectrum. The scheduler in the small cell manages the user’s quality of experience (QoE). This is a big difference compared to Wi-Fi. When a subscriber connects to a building’s Wi-Fi network the operator is pushed out of the picture. All traffic now goes over the Wi-Fi network if the unlicensed spectrum is congested.

LTE-LAA requires no changes in the LTE core network (EPC). This is really big. In the past, the only way operators could reliably use unlicensed spectrum in public venues was by building their own Wi-Fi networks (so-called “Carrier Wi-Fi”). However, to do this they required new WLAN gateways, management systems, AAA systems, and even more importantly a new organization (people, yes, lots of them) who understood Wi-Fi and could manage it. As a result, very few mobile operators deployed Carrier Wi-Fi. This is not the case with LAA. In fact, LAA is transparent to the core network, and network engineers who know how to manage an LTE network can manage an LTE-LAA network. It is that simple.

Verizon, one of the most technologically advanced operators in the world, is not waiting for R13 to be standardized to benefit from LAA. It has created a pre-R13 approach called LTE-U with its technology partners. Verizon has announced that it will be doing LTE-U trials this year with Qualcomm, Samsung and SpiderCloud Wireless.

MulteFire

MulteFire makes it possible to deploy LTE in unlicensed spectrum only. It builds upon LAA as standardized in 3GPP R13, by (1) removing the need for a licensed channel as anchor, and (2) using unlicensed spectrum for uplink, in addition to downlink.

MulteFire is good for mobile operators. Many mobile operators are deploying licensed spectrum small cells right now. However, doing so is not always possible. There are tens of thousands of buildings where it makes business sense for operators to share small cell infrastructure with each other. Further, many venues insist on shared wireless systems for space and aesthetics. This is where MulteFire comes in, allowing operators to share small cells, without sharing their licensed spectrum, and leverage neutral host providers.

MulteFire will also allow mobile operators to partner with enterprises to deploy mobile connectivity solutions. Over the years, SpiderCloud has met many enterprises that are willing to purchase affordably priced small cell systems that leverage their existing LAN. However, network departments of mobile operators are rarely eager to let enterprise IT own and operate small cells that may, if improperly used, degrade the macro network. By using unlicensed spectrum MulteFire takes that concern away, and makes it easier for able and willing enterprises to invest in LTE small cells.

MulteFire small cell systems do not require any new core network gateways or authentication systems. They can connect to the core network just like normal LTE small cells. Well designed MulteFire small cell systems will connect to multiple core networks without a hitch. They natively use SIM-based authentication. They will honor QCI markings, and any other policies provided by the core network. They can be monetized like any other LTE service. They will offer the same kind of LTE KPIs that network engineers measure on their LTE network.

SpiderCloud’s role in making LTE in unlicensed a success

Since regulations limit transmit power in unlicensed spectrum, this spectrum is ideal for indoor use. At SpiderCloud we are big believers in the importance of adding capacity indoors – especially in high-density indoor locations. When an operator adds a hundred (yes, 100) sectors of capacity inside a building with a few thousand subscribers, it not only offers a great user experience to these subscribers, but also frees up a massive amount of capacity on the macro network for outdoor users. When it comes to capacity build-out, indoor is a 2-for-1 deal! We build licensed spectrum small cells to do this today, and we are really excited about what is possible with unlicensed spectrum.

LTE-in-Unlicensed-2

 

SpiderCloud, and many industry analysts, believe that distributed small cell technology (in contrast to centralized baseband units connected to remote radio heads) is the only viable way to implement any LTE technology that requires co-existence with Wi-Fi, whether it is LTE-U/LAA or MulteFire (supporting document). Each small cell should be able to independently pick the unlicensed channel that it uses, just like Wi-Fi systems do. Further, systems operating in unlicensed spectrum must decide within microseconds if a channel is available, inform other users of their intent to transmit, and then use the channel. Of course, the challenge with using distributed small cells in large high-density venues – where the greatest benefit of MulteFire will be – is small cell coordination. SpiderCloud E-RAN architecture has been solving this problem since 2011, and we look forward to extending the E-RAN architecture to LTE-U/LAA and MulteFire.

SpiderCloud Wireless will be exhibiting at LTE LatAm  6 – 7 April, where Amit Jain will also be a featured speaker. Find out more and view the full agenda: https://latam.lteconference.com/


Fire up your network! With MulteFire

February 17, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 11.58.55 AMRecently, SpiderCloud joined the MulteFire Alliance. MulteFire extends the benefits of LTE to unlicensed spectrum, with a simple, secure and seamless network architecture, offering services providers of all stripes – big and small – an alternative to Wi-Fi. At SpiderCloud, we are really excited about the possibilities of MulteFire and would like to share why.

Wireless technology for all service providers – big and small

Since MulteFire is based on LTE, it is a technology designed for wireless service providers. Broadly defined, a service provider is anyone who needs to provide wireless connectivity to its users. This includes not only today’s massive mobile network operators, but also malls that need to provide wireless access to shoppers, stadiums that need to make sure that fans have a fantastic experience, hospitals where guests want to connect, and IT departments of large corporations. All of them face the same challenge that big mobile operators face: How to provide robust high speed wireless connectivity? How to keep the network secure? How to ensure quality of service? How to manage the cost of delivering service per user? Basically, how to be a good, trusted service provider?

Why MulteFire is good for mobile network operators

Subscribers judge mobile network operators by the quality of their network (as can be seen by Verizon’s recent ads about network quality, and T-Mobile and Sprint’s spirited response!). Numerous studies show that 70-80% of mobile data usage is indoors. And case studies shared by many, (including SpiderCloud) demonstrate that – building indoor networks actually improves the quality of the outdoor experience.

We firmly believe that LTE small cells operating in licensed spectrum, supplemented by LTE-U/LAA, enable mobile operators to deliver the best possible indoor user experience. Major operators own 40-100 MHz of spectrum (sometimes more), and deploying small cells in licensed spectrum is the best way to guarantee quality of service.

However, deploying licensed spectrum small cells is not always possible. There are tens of thousands of buildings where it makes business sense for operators to share small cell infrastructure with each other. Further, many venues insist on shared wireless systems for space and aesthetics. This is where MulteFire comes in, allowing operators to share small cells, and potentially leverage neutral host providers.

MulteFire will also allow mobile operators to partner with enterprises to deploy mobile connectivity solutions. Over the years, SpiderCloud has met many enterprises that are willing to purchase affordably priced small cell systems that leverage their existing LAN. However, network departments of mobile operators are rarely eager to let enterprise IT own and operate small cells that may, if improperly used, degrade the macro network. By using unlicensed spectrum, MulteFire takes that concern away, and makes it easier for able and willing enterprises to invest in LTE small cells.

Creating new opportunities for wireline operators, large enterprises, retailers and sports venues

MulteFire also offers opportunities for those who want to offer wireless service, but do not own licensed spectrum. Today, the only choice for such service providers is Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, Wi-Fi comes with several limitations:

  1. Wi-Fi throughput degrades rapidly as the number of active users per access point exceeds approximately twenty – a big problem in dense venues.
  2. Wi-Fi network authentication methods remain fragmented. Captive portals still remain the most popular form of authentication, adding friction to on-boarding process.
  3. Wi-Fi does not offer a standardized end-to-end architecture. Service providers often have to buy end-to-end proprietary systems from Wi-Fi equipment suppliers.
  4. Wi-Fi is perceived to be free. As a result, service providers have little option but to collect and trade in end-user information.

MulteFire addresses most of Wi-Fi’s shortcomings. MulteFire APs will be able to support as many as 64-128 simultaneous active connections (like current generation LTE small cells do). Authentication will be seamless. End-to-end QoS and support for high-quality voice will be built in.

Since MulteFire will not be perceived as Wi-Fi, service providers will have the ability to experiment with new business models. For instance, since it will be relatively straightforward to integrate a MulteFire network with the LTE core networks of mobile operators, third-parties who build MulteFire networks, can act as “neutral hosts” and easily sell capacity to mobile operators.

SpiderCloud and MulteFire

SpiderCloud believes that distributed small cell technology (in contrast to centralized baseband units connected to remote radio heads) is the only viable way to implement any LTE technology that requires co-existence with Wi-Fi, whether it is LTE-U/LAA or MulteFire (supporting document). Each small cell should be able to independently pick the unlicensed channel that it uses, just like Wi-Fi systems do. Further, systems operating in unlicensed spectrum must decide within microseconds if a channel is available, inform other users of their intent to transmit, and then to use the channel.

Of course, the challenge with using distributed small cells in large high-density venues – where the greatest benefit of MulteFire will be – is small cell coordination. SpiderCloud E-RAN architecture has been solving this problem since 2011, and we look forward to extending the E-RAN architecture to MulteFire.

We look forward to offering systems to both mobile network operators and non-traditional service providers. SpiderCloud’s mobile operator customers will get a MulteFire system that integrates with their core network just like SpiderCloud’s licensed spectrum systems do. Non-traditional operators, particularly those who wish to partner with mobile operators as neutral hosts, will be able to use a scalable small cell system that mobile operators already trust. Both kinds of operators will be able to use SpiderCloud’s Mobile Edge Computing capabilities to offer value added services to subscribers, and deploy innovative business models.

– Amit Jain, Vice President of Marketing & Product Management


Verizon to Trial SpiderCloud LTE-U Scalable In-building System for Enterprises and Venues

February 10, 2016

verizonThis morning we announced that Verizon will be trialing SpiderCloud’s LTE-U small cell system. As most of you know, Verizon had selected SpiderCloud as a supplier of LTE enterprise small cell systems in December 2014, and today Verizon is deploying SpiderCloud dual-carrier LTE systems at enterprise locations across the country. Now, we are ready to take the next step with Verizon, towards LTE Unlicensed (LTE-U).

Verizon is the guiding force behind LTE-U, the ability to use unlicensed 5GHz bands to deliver faster data rates to LTE subscribers. With LTE-U, the mobile operator’s licensed spectrum remains the primary carrier, with unlicensed providing a boost when needed. The interest in LTE-U is driven by venues and sites where there is a very high density of people consuming large streams like videos, live streams or playbacks – places where subscribers are screaming for network capacity, and where mobile operators are struggling to delight them.

SpiderCloud E-RAN is ideal for these high-density venues. E-RAN is the industry’s only small system that works in places like multi-tenant business offices, shopping malls, hospitals, university campuses and concert halls. We are building a new LTE-U radio node that has the capacity to continuously monitor unlicensed channels. Since the baseband processor is on the radio node, the decision to use available unlicensed spectrum can be made in microseconds, just like Wi-Fi APs do. The Services Node acts as the central small cell coordinator, assigning unlicensed channels to radio nodes using a SON algorithm designed to maximize capacity.

There are others in the industry who like to call their distributed antenna systems or remote radio head systems “small cells”. We have always argued that radio heads and antennas are not small cells. Never were, and no amount of marketing will make them so. We expect these folks to have a really tough time when it comes to LTE-U.

We won’t bore with you all the technical details in a blog post, but just consider this example. Consider a LTE-U base station connected to a DAS system in a big shopping mall where there are hundreds of ad-hoc Wi-Fi networks. Typically, a single sector LTE base station provides coverage to an entire floor of the mall (say, 50K-100K sq. ft.). Whenever this LTE-U base station uses an unlicensed channel, no Wi-Fi AP on that floor can use that channel. How will the Wi-Fi users in the mall feel about that? And whenever, any of the 25-50 Wi-Fi APs on this floor use a particular channel, the LTE-U base station is expected to remain silent. Hmm… so, what value is the operator getting from their new LTE-U base station?

We would like to thank Verizon for their confidence in SpiderCloud, and look forward to working closely with them to make LTE-U a success.

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

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


It’s an earthquake, I tell you!

November 2, 2015

earthquakeWhile it may not be visible to most, the impact of LTE in the unlicensed bands has really penetrated the consciousness of the technical leaders in the mobile operator community. We think LTE in the unlicensed bands has presented mobile operators with an interesting alternative to Carrier Wi-Fi.

This appears to be due to two main forces:

  • Mobile operators want a beautiful and seamless user experience for their subscribers. This desire prevents any Wi-Fi monetization through advertisement insertion or collection of subscriber’s personal information.
  • Mobile operators want to leverage their end-to-end technology investment from the core to the edge of the RAN. This desire is squashed by the parallel technology chain that must be built and supported for Carrier Wi-Fi authentication, operations and traffic management. Further, it requires the creation of parallel operations lifecycle processes to keep it running at desired KPI’s.

LTE in unlicensed bands, whether it is LTE-U or LAA, is a technology designed for small cells. This is due to the typical licensed band RF coverage of a small cell matching up nicely with the coverage of LTE-U/LAA at 5Ghz and creating a blanket dual-carrier effect. The need to build any additional core systems are eliminated as the unlicensed bands are seen by both the network and the UE’s as just another different chunk of spectrum to be aggregated by LTE-A capabilities.

As a leading supplier of LTE small cell systems for medium to large buildings,

we are fielding inbound requests from mobile operators seeking an LTE-U/LAA enabled small cells platform. Why? Because the kinds of indoor environments that SpiderCloud addresses are the ones where carriers are bracing for a capacity crunch! Mobile operators are not facing a capacity crunch at coffee shops and small offices for which they need to supplement their licensed spectrum with unlicensed. They are dealing with a capacity crunch at places where hundreds or thousands of people congregate.

But, Art! What about the “Wi-Fi-mageddon” that we heard may end all communications on earth? So, we are confident the IEEE, 3GPP and LTE-U Forum will hammer out a good solution for co-existence. Not only are there vendors that straddle both technologies, but there are other examples of successful unlicensed spectrum sharing in other bands (ISM comes to mind). Once the co-existence issues are worked out, the discussion will shift to building small cell systems that can exist with ad-hoc Wi-Fi networks, and deliver much-needed mobile capacity, in locations where the need is greatest.

It is useful to note that Carrier Wi-Fi will continue to do a booming business in amarket of terrestrial operators without spectrum. Additionally, as more enterprises move Wi-Fi outside their perimeter (connecting to enterprise data centers via remote access VPN even within a campus), operators that have wireless and terrestrial operating companies have an opportunity to supply turnkey managed wireless services composed of Wi-Fi+Small Cells.

In summary, LTE-U is an earthquake for many business and technical reasons. To learn more, please read David Chambers’ (ThinkSmallCell) latest white paper on the Mobile Operator CTO decision and the Enterprise landscape. We sponsored this work to help you get a deeper dive on the potential decisions, and hope you find it useful.

Cheers,

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

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