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.

hola

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/


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


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

September 29, 2015

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

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

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

diagramblog0915

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

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

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

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

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


Small Cell Suspense and “Edge of Innovation” at #MWC15

March 2, 2015

At Mobile World Congress (#MWC15), Cisco today announced commercial availability of its new Universal Small Cell (USC) 8000 Series designed for large enterprises and venues. This solution is the result of collaboration between Cisco and SpiderCloud Wireless, and will be offered to Cisco’s enterprise customers and channel partners. The global agreement includes Cisco reselling SpiderCloud’s entire small cell portfolio under the USC 8000 Series brand.  In addition, SpiderCloud will develop custom small cell technology for Cisco to include 3G and 4G radio modules into the Aironet 3600/3700 Wi-Fi access points.

This is indeed big news! Scott Morrison, VP/GM for Cisco’s Small Cell Technology Group summarized it nicely:

“Partnering with SpiderCloud, Cisco now has an unsurpassed and complete end-to-end small cell and Wi-Fi solution for mobile operators and their enterprise customers. Working with Vodafone enables us to give enterprise customers a complete, high-quality mobile experience in every building, helping them transform the role of mobility in their business.”

So, look out Ericsson and Huawei, as products in the new small cell portfolio are available immediately, including Cisco’s USC 8088 Controller which provides real-time coordination and distributed SON capability for up to 100-sector LTE/3G radios, enough to effectively cover the largest of enterprise customers and buildings.  Vodafone is the first service provider to have its enterprise customers benefit from the global agreement.

“Working with Cisco and SpiderCloud, we will be able to offer our enterprise customers a highly flexible small cell system that can be deployed rapidly and cost-effectively to enhance the quality of the mobile and Wi-Fi coverage our customers rely on to run their businesses.”
–  Matt Beal, Director of Innovation and Architecture, Vodafone Group.

As our CEO (Mike Gallagher) puts it, this is a “market changer! “Our partnership with Cisco will speed up small cell deployments to benefit large enterprise customers worldwide.”

The beneficiaries of this global agreement are mobile operators who are serious about providing mobile in-building coverage, capacity and managed services to enterprise customers and venue owners. With Cisco’s existing enterprise customers and channel partners, mobile operators now have access to a complete end-to-end small cell and Wi-Fi solution, and access to a new enterprise customer base.

At #MWC15, we are showcasing how enterprise customers benefit from a scalable small cell system.

  • Improved Performance for Coverage and Capacity
    – Carrier Aggregation: New Dual-band radio nodes, designed to offer simultaneous 3G/LTE service or dual-carrier LTE service, are software upgradeable to support Carrier Aggregation with peak rates up to 300 Mbps.
  • Pre and Post Installation Capabilities
    – Radio Nodes with Integrated Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon, improve an already easy installation process, improve inventory management, and ease post-installation system maintenance, driving down the carrier’s total cost of ownership for large, scalable indoor small cell deployments. Radio Nodes with integrated Bluetooth beacons works in conjunction with SpiderCloud’s award-winning E-RAN iOS and Android app.
  • New Managed Services Opportunities
    – Virtualized functions and hosted services on the Services Node. SpiderCloud will demonstrate enterprise-specific content filtering and group/individual policy examples with Intel Security. These policies make it possible for enterprise IT to deploy a high-capacity LTE system without compromising its acceptable use policies.
    – New Radio Node with Low Energy Bluetooth beacons opens the door for localization and context services within large enterprise offices, malls and venues.
  • Multi-Operator Support
    – New dual-band LTE Radio Nodes can be shared by two operators via a software upgrade. Dual-band LTE radios support 5, 10, 15 and 20 MHz channels, with peak rates of 150 Mbps per band, and VoLTE. Operators will have option to share their dual-band SpiderCloud LTE system with partner operators (multi-operator RAN), while maintaining strict separation of traffic and services, through a software upgrade.

See and read more about fast innovations and small cell installations on our newly refreshed web site www.spidercloud.com

Today, SpiderCloud’s partner NEC also announced that Avea in Turkey is rolling out a scalable small cell system with solutions from NEC and Spidercloud. And most recently, SpiderCloud with Emtel, announced that Warid Telecom in Pakistan is bringing 4G to its customers.

With our partners, we will continue to innovate and bring scalable small cell systems, with access to cloud-enabled services, to our customers. We are indeed at the “Edge of Innovation” – this year’s theme at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Ronny Haraldsvik
SVP/CMO
SpiderCloud Wireless
Twitter: @haraldsvik


Our Very Own “Solsbury Hill”?

June 6, 2014

“Climbing up on Solsbury Hill, I could see the city light, Wind was blowing, time stood still. Eagle flew out of the night.”

Last weekend I enjoyed watching the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction of some great rock bands like Kiss, E-Street Band and one of my all-time favorites, Peter Gabriel. Interestingly enough, our (soon-to-be) 12 year-old son and daughter were mesmerized by the old folks on stage and the cool music. My son loves Kiss, and both of them have heard me work out to Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill” more than a few times.

Besides the spiritual meaning of the song, climbing any hill is an accomplishment for a person, a team or a company. This week, we have done exactly that. We climbed a major hill together, our very own “Solsbury Hill” you may say. On June 4, we announced findings from our LTE trials using our award-winning SCRN-310 dual-band 3G/LTE Radio Node. One year ago, on the same day (June 4, 2013), we announced our 3G KPI. The findings of the new LTE trials show performance reliability results consistent with similar 3G small cell test results released 12 months ago.

  • Average Call Setup Success Rate of 99.5%
  • Call Drop Rate 0.4%
  • Intra-E-RAN Hand-over Success Rate 99.9%

With our dual-band Radio Node, operators enable better access capacity for its enterprise subscribers, and therefore create an overall better user experience in the small cell network. Since each Radio Node has its own dedicated capacity for fast user access, the E-RAN system with dual-band Radio Nodes will need fewer Radio Nodes to connect more devices more often, as say compared to a shared antenna system.

We have already started to ship commercial orders of the multi-band 310 Radio Node to select customers. And, later this summer we’ll kick off trials of the dual-band LTE version.

Maybe we did not climb a hill, but a big mountain with this announcement?

Next week we’ll be at the Small Cell Summit & Small Cell Forum for four days of meetings in London. We’re looking forward to the June 11 award night. We’re honored by the industry and peer recognition bestowed upon SpiderCloud Wireless, HP, Intel and Vodafone. SpiderCloud is nominated for 3 awards:

  • “Small cell innovation leadership”: SpiderCloud & Intel. Intel’s Edge Cloud Processing with SpiderCloud’s E-RAN
  • “Small cell access point design and technology innovation”: SpiderCloud Wireless Enterprise Dual-Band 3G/LTE Radio Node
  • “Small cell network element design and technology innovation”: Vodafone, HP and SpiderCloud – Enabling Context Aware Applications for People and Internet of Things

Earlier this year, SpiderCloud and Vodafone UK won the “2014 Global Telecoms Business Innovation Award” for “Wireless Network Infrastructure Innovation” for Vodafone’s Sure Signal Premium, a reliable indoor mobile coverage and capacity service using SpiderCloud Wireless’ scalable small cell system connected to NEC’s security gateways in Vodafone’s network.

After London, SpiderCloud is off to Singapore for CommunicAsia and to Chicago for LightReading’s The Big Telecom Event to speak about Enterprise Small Cells.

In Chicago, SpiderCloud is nominated for 2 awards in LightReading 10th annual “Leading Lights” Awards taking place on June 17.

  • “Private Company of the Year” Awarded to the privately held firm that stands out from it competitors, innovates constantly, makes investors proud, and makes employees happy” SpiderCloud Wireless is one of eight companies nominated.
  • “Best New Product for Mobile” Awarded to the company that has developed a potentially market-leading product that, through engineering and technical excellence, enables the deployment of profitable next-generation mobile services. SpiderCloud’s award-winning dual-band Radio Node (SCRN-310) is one of eight products nominated.

After Chicago, we’re off to Amsterdam on June 23-24 for Informa’s LTE World Summit where we are also nominated for Telecoms.com’s “Most Innovative LTE Application/Service” award for our E-RAN Estimator Application.

This summer, find your own hill or mountain to climb. And, if you need a highly motivating song to help you, fire up Rock’n Roll Hall of Fame Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill.”

A big thank you to our investors: Charles River Ventures, Matrix Partners, Opus Capital and Shasta Ventures.  Have a safe and sound summer.

Ronny Haraldsvik
SVP/CMO

Twitter: haraldsvik
spidercloud_inc


A Mobile Enterprise Without Visible Wi-Fi?

February 5, 2014

Over the past 1 & 1/2 years, we have discussed many different dimensions of Wi-Fi, small cells, and user behaviors — with a primary focus on the Enterprise experience. During the past few months we have had a number of meetings that brought to life some interesting questions and challenges.

Mobile operator questions focused on:

  • Is Wi-Fi going to be a fully supported RAN to the mobile operators?
  • Is Wi-Fi a bridge to LTE for mobile operators?
  • Is Wi-Fi destined to be a self-offload tool for residential and enterprise?
  • When will voice over LTE become real (and when will we have international roaming)?
  • What about 3G (voice fall back), we still need it for many years, so what do we do?

Enterprise IT questions (in response) were:

  • “This is not Wi-Fi, right? We don’t want anything from a mobile operator to interfere with our Wi-Fi.” Global IT Director
  • “Where we have control of a building, we want to own all the Wi-Fi, by policy.” Global Wireless Architect
  • “If spectral re-use, enabled by small cells, alleviates LTE spectrum capacity problems, where does Wi-Fi fit?” CTO from a major mobile operator
  • “Why should we invest in operationalizing yet another RAN [Wi-Fi] when there is no clear revenue model?” RAN Engineering Director from a global mobile operator

From our vantage point, the device owners (aka Enterprise) don’t have a stake in the RAN question, as they are seeking something totally different. Device owners want their Quality of Experience “QoE” to be the best available. There is no concern with how the device manufacturers or mobile operator may implement it. Read more about this in a prior blog where topic #1 is “Is Wi-Fi still as relevant to mobile devices by 2015, as it is today?

In the last few years, consumers and enterprise subscribers have been conditioned to self-offload onto Wi-Fi due to lack of “magic” access and software that does not work. Remember, free Wi-Fi is not as ubiquitous as most people believe or claimed (anyone who moves around, or travels knows that). In the enterprise, Wi-Fi may only be available for guests, if your sponsor has granted guest access. In some cases, Enterprise Wi-Fi may exclude employee mobile devices completely. We touched on this hot set of issues in “Turn off Wi-Fi” – Could this be the answer?

Enterprises are starting to position their architectures for outside the firewall access for mobile devices. As this strategy extends to conversion of legacy Wi-Fi architectures, having Wi-Fi as a service, dormant but available in the mobile operator RAN has the ability to allow the mobile operator to be in the running as a managed services provider of a set of common wireless infrastructure services – when the enterprise is ready to have such a conversation (after you build trust with them). This was part of our two part series on Blurring of the lines of networks (enterprise Wi-Fi).

Enterprise IT is all about trust-building (Show me NO MORE money spent on hardware!). To be successful in the enterprise, mobile operators need to understand the IT mindset around customer trust, security policies, and operational concerns. The sales cycle for enterprise in managed services, or doing anything that touches their infrastructure is very different than the arms-length relationship of in selling devices and minutes. The initial 10-point discussion of the business and security concerns were laid out in Warning to enterprise IT departments: Use of a Strap-On may have big consequences. Digest these points and it will save you millions.

What’s our take on the questions raised at the front end?

Mobile device client software will continue to move to being “magic” where the decision on the use of Wi-Fi or LTE will be both more intelligent and automatic. In the case of small cells where the performance bottleneck is not spectrum, staying on LTE will be preferred. Apple and Google will be the leaders in providing solutions to RAN selection that moves us forward from today’s situation.

Wi-Fi as a fully supported RAN to the mobile operators? We think that if this third RAN does not have a clear business case to build, providers like an iPass or Devicescape will satisfy the immediate need. For enterprise installations where a single truck roll is desired, our technology may be deployed with the Wi-Fi infrastructure present, but turned off. This investment positions the mobile operator to ask for the enterprise Wi-Fi business in the future.

Wi-Fi may be a bridge to LTE for mobile operators indoors where backhaul and spectrum are not constrained. A mobile operator who has sufficient capacity to satisfy their customers in most use cases may choose LTE and consider Wi-Fi as a future reserve, or something that device owners manage themselves.

Wi-Fi is a great self-managed tool for residential and enterprise. We device owners are well trained to configure for it. To take it beyond self-managed, the connection automation transparency, owner costs, and consumption rules will need to be clearly addressed over time. The challenge to the mobile industry is self-managed terrestrial Wi-Fi is a sunk cost and provides unlimited usage.

VoLTE becomes real this year for CDMA mobile operators with 3G having a prominent role as the lingua franca for International roaming. The LTE band plans and commonality are being sorted out by the industry and regulators, but the exact solution is not yet clear to us.

3G (voice fall back) will continue to be prominent in thinking and must be supported. For CDMA operators who make a move to exclusively VoLTE, simple bulk switching of traffic from LTE to Wi-Fi is out, and will require VoLTE traffic to be left on LTE.

2014 is a tipping point for how mobile operators think and invest in Wi-Fi as an integrated, not standalone, part of the RAN ecosystem. In no small part, adding Wi-Fi to licensed spectrum small cells (3G/LTE) will be situational and shaped by the overall business strategy, and focus of each mobile operator. Indeed, a Mobile Enterprise must include Wi-Fi to create a best user experience where the 3G/4G Radio Access Network works with Wi-Fi, without user or IT intervention.

No matter what occurs, initiatives such as SpiderCloud’s EASY-30 that help mobile operators create or re-shape indoor coverage and capacity deployment processes will accelerate enterprise small cells to “escape velocity” in 2014. You can read here to learn more about EASY-30 and/or setup your appointment at Mobile World Congress 2014 to meet us in person.

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

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


Is Wi-Fi Still as Relevant to Mobile Devices by 2015, as it is Today?

July 31, 2013

Got your attention?

Before you jump off your chair and fire off irate comments, or quietly give it a supporting nod, let’s set the context for this question.

1. LTE outdoor and 3G/LTE/Wi-Fi Small Cells Indoors for coverage and capacity and services will become more pervasive within the next 2 years.
2. Indoor usage becomes unlimited for any radio type (where flat rates or no-rate plans are used inside on an enterprise’s LAN).
3. Rate plans accommodate multiple devices per person.
4. Always best radio access becomes more feasible where the device will look for best radio access when and where needed.

Inside enterprise customers’ buildings, campus or floors where a mobile operator has invested in scalable and multi-access small cells, the user experience and performance of the radio infrastructures between LTE and 802.11, across the standards continuum, is very similar. This is due to RF strength decrease that follows the Inverse Square Law combined with the modulation downshifts that occur with longer distance from the radios. In brief, 10 or 20Mhz of licensed LTE spectrum may give a user/employee inside a LAN-powered mobile network as good, if not a better experience for voice/data, then when connected on a 40Mhz unlicensed Wi-Fi network.

The differences between LTE and Wi-Fi are centered on access and mobility overheads due to the origins of each technology from either mobile (LTE) or static (802.11). You’ll see that not only are LTE and Wi-Fi speeds similar, but OFDM and QAM types are shared by both technologies. For overall data throughput, the primary limiting factors are:

  • Latency between mobile devices and the hosts
  • Backhaul speed and congestion
  • 1Gb Ethernet Ports (we have not yet seen a radio with a 10Gbps port)

To learn more, see Wireless Data Standards, LTE-Advanced, and 802.11ac. You’ll see that not only are their speeds similar, but OFDM and QAM types are shared by both technologies.

Let’s compare and contrast using apples and… well, apples:

  • If you assume 1Gb Ethernet connected radios with equivalent uncongested backhaul (full path), the user experience from the same App or web property should be similar.
  • This similarity enables the “question”: If LTE and Wi-Fi (even LTE-Advanced and 802.11ac) are comparable from a big picture perspective, how does good ol’ Wi-Fi fit in 2015?

In 2015, Wi-Fi still delivers a great value to the mobile operator, subscriber and enterprise, but in a different way starting now.

For device connectivity delivered by the mobile operator’s small cell system:

  • New devices will prefer LTE and, if it’s congested, will dynamically shift traffic over to the Carrier or Enterprise Wi-Fi.
  • Legacy devices will take their direction from the infrastructure if they are not dynamically aware of the best LTE/Wi-Fi decision.
  • “Wi-Fi only” or virtual SIM-capable “buy-as-you-go” and “where you go” devices will leverage a Virtual SIM and Carrier-enabled Wi-Fi as part of available services packages in the metro region or country.

By 2015, Wi-Fi takes on a different role as an additional revenue source:

  • Invisible to the enterprise, Carrier Wi-Fi offloads other mobile operators’ data traffic onto the managed mobile/Wi-Fi network — Hotspot 2.0 powered via the mobile operators’ home/visitor backend so it’s invisible to roaming subscribers.
  • Guest Wi-Fi in venues and enterprises will relieve those operations of the compliance and operations burdens that Guest Wi-Fi presents. The mobile operators can offer this service in a number of creative ways that could include a revenue sharing arrangement with the venue owner as they exit the service delivery business.
  • Secure Wi-Fi with 802.1X integration into enterprise backend directory services. The great majority of new devices and network access inside the enterprise will indeed never be connected to an Ethernet cable — in their lifetime. When this is combined with continued BYOD trending, the enterprise perimeter shifts closer to the data center and not at the old boundary of the wired Enterprise-Internet (see Blurring Lines Enterprise Perimeter Changes and Wi-Fi Trust Boundary Change for details). The result is smaller data centers and fewer racks at headquarters and branch offices. Why?  IT will simply source all the mobile/wireless enabled network services from the mobile operator because operating mobile or wireless networks is not the core IT competency, nor core to the business operations.

Wi-Fi is still relevant in 2015 for mobile operators as a residential offload technology, and for vertically integrated businesses that insist on managing their own Wi-Fi networks or insist on taking on the role of a mobile operator for their enterprise employees. But, where LTE and scalable small cell systems become more pervasive as a services offering by a mobile operator, Wi-Fi’s role will be very different from today. Small Cell systems by mobile operators help enterprises exit the operational role for commoditized communications technology.

A new and more important role is emerging for mobile operators where enterprise mobility and value-added IP services is 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.

Small Cells are evolving with enterprises’ needs, and transition from going wireless to becoming a true mobile enterprise.

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

Twitter: @EMobilityInside

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


Infrastructure Intersections and Quality of Experience: The New Role of the Mobile Operator (Part 3)

November 19, 2012

This post was inspired by an article in AGL Magazine covering Cisco’s Keynote at the PCIA Wireless Infrastructure Conference and 4G World tweet @4GWorld: “Coverage, capacity & services need to be re-considered”. At 4G World, the Wi-Fi panels really talked to the evolving conversation that includes both licensed (Mobile Operator) and unlicensed (Wi-Fi) Wireless Services as part of delivering great services to mobile device owners. We, at SpiderCloud, see that there is a wave of services innovation on the horizon that has the capacity to make life better for both the mobile operators and the device owners.

The innovations will occur primarily in two areas:

  • “The plumbing” at the intersection of the three radio planes (3G, Wi-Fi, and LTE), plus the Enterprise, Internet, and the Mobile Operator core.
  • Increasing the quality of the client side experience for Mobile device owners.

SpiderCloud’s architecture exposes the plumbing intersection inside the enterprise premise because our Services Node, along with the heavy lifting it does delivering the three radio interfaces, is a common transit point at this intersection. The architectural air-gap between the mobile operator and the enterprise is available at this intersection to create a family of invisible services that add value to customer experiences. By “invisible”, we mean the device owner should not have to do any configuration, and the services should work like magic.

We envision invisible services such as:

  • Clientless Unified Communications
  • Multiple Layers of Wi-Fi Services (for various purposes)
  • Hotspot 2.0 (connected to operators planet wide roaming backend)
  • Location Based Services
  • Web Security/Content Filtering
  • Private 3G Data into Enterprise

On the quality of the client side experience, this is a long-term journey for the industry as a whole. The term “Quality of Experience” as used in conferences and publications tends to focus on network performance, throughput, dropped calls, and other KPI’s. However, it is useful to expand the term to include improvements to user experience of the mobile device owner, at the device’s human interface.

Example 1: Hotspot 2.0 solves the friction problem with authentication. At Informa’s Wi-Fi World Summit (September 2012 – Barcelona), one of the presenting Operators had a 5x increase in hotspot use by simply enabling automatic EAP authentication. This was a direct illustration that if process barriers are removed, people will consume.

Example 2: There are missing mechanisms in Wi-Fi management that need improvement. Many airports offer Wi-Fi that is not usable at peak hours (too slow or unable to connect). The problem can be solved in the infrastructure by preventing new connections during peaks, or the Wi-Fi clients need a common approach to deciding on what network to use for data. An intelligent network select algorithm in clients could make a decision to fallback to 3G/LTE data when the mobile device’s Wi-Fi client accesses a congested Wi-Fi. For non-technical device owners, switching Wi-Fi on and off, depending on the perceived performance, is something that could be addressed in the software and mask the complexity.

In summary, lots of innovation to come, from embracing 3G/LTE and Wi-Fi together, that will ultimately result in increasing both the magical (hard to measure) and service (easy to measure) KPI components of our Quality of Experience thinking in the industry.

Thanks for checking in.

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.
Webinar: What services do CIO’s really want from their mobile network operator?

Want to talk? Please contact me.

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