Help! I have a bar problem…

October 19, 2015

LucThis post was inspired by our conversations with operators at the CCA Small Cell Forum Seminar on “Evolution of Small Cells” at CCA 2015. We discussed rural areas and the service delivery challenges faced in low population density areas. In many rural areas there can be either none, or not enough of both wired and wireless telecom services to service customer demands. At present, we live on a farm in the Pacific Northwest (photo is our dog Luc sitting in a livestock tank after working), and experience some telecom service gaps.

So, what is “a bar problem”? Note that this is in context of indoor cellular, and not a drinking establishment.

In rural areas, indoor services can range from:

  • 0 bars – no signal is making it into the building.
  • 5 bars, yet can’t connect – out of capacity due to device concentration.

0 bars – If you have great mobile service outside a building and it plunges to 0 bars when you enter, the source of the problem can be the materials used in newer commercial construction, or remodeling. For example, low energy loss glass that has a metallic coating can result in RF losses upwards of 30dB (for non-engineers, that means 1/1000 of the original signal makes it through the window glass). This impacts the availability of signal and, if there is a useful amount left, the mobile device in the building will have to transmit on much higher power levels to make it to the nearby macro-cellular site.

5 bars, yet can’t connect – If you enter a building and have 5 bars of service, but your Apps don’t work at all or are extremely slow, there may be so many devices in the area that the macro-cellular network cannot support them all. This type of scenario may occur in a gymnasium where crowds converge for events like a basketball game or wrestling tournament.

In both of these scenarios, a properly designed macro-cellular network with the very large cells typical of rural deployments can be stressed by pushing signal into a building or many devices concentrated in a single site.

Indoor scalable small cells can provide the necessary coverage and capacity without having to do anything special to the devices. Why? Small cells are normal cellular infrastructure that reuse the same spectrum that the macro uses. All subscriber devices work in both situations without any intervention required by the owner.

So, for new buildings or public sites like the gym example, small cells move cellular signal from the present outside-in model to providing it from inside. SpiderCloud’s E-RAN solution can leverage the Ethernet LAN in the building to slash deployment time and costs. To connect to the mobile core, a simple high capacity IP link is all that is required. Follow these links to learn about our architecture and capacity. We have also developed an IP configuration that does not require a Security Gateway to eliminate that cost barrier for smaller mobile operators who will deploy a limited amount of small cells.

Thanks to all who spent time with us at CCA and discussed your needs or situations, it was valuable time for us to learn more. We also continue to ask those of you who have not explored joining the Small Cell Forum, to look into it. Membership information can be found here and it allows you to have a voice in shaping the future of the technologies you need to serve your customers. See the “Explorer” tier of membership to start.

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

Twitter: @EMobilityInside
Visit our Enterprise IT site @