Fact Check: Adding Capacity in an E-RAN System

August 24, 2015

We have encountered a number of incorrect opinions about how to add capacity to an E-RAN installation. It’s time to clarify the concerns, and set the record straight.

Adding capacity to an E-RAN installation is done by increasing the size of backhaul connecting it to the mobile core. Further, the contemporary Ethernet Network Termination Equipment “NTE” that are implemented by Tier One operators, adding capacity is performed by an OSS system by increasing the logical rate on a 1Gbps Ethernet physical port. There is no need to visit the building, add additional Radio Nodes and cabling, or install new cards in a chassis.

In the balance of this post, we review the E-RAN technical characteristics that support the approach of increasing backhaul to add capacity to an E-RAN.

E-RAN Technical

  • Each SpiderCloud Radio Node (SCRN-310) offers 2 cells (sectors) of capacity, and supports up to 128 active users.
  • Up to 100 SCRN-310s can be connected to a Services Node. The Services Node supports over 10,000 subscribers.
  • The number of Radio Nodes in a building is based on coverage. Each radio node covers 750-1000 sq. m. (7,500-10,000 sq. ft.).
  • A single 20Mhz wide LTE carrier can deliver up to 150Mbps of downlink to a mobile device.
  • The fronthaul network supporting the cloud of Radio Nodes associated with a Services Node is typically a 1Gb PoE+ link to an Ethernet VLAN with a 10Gbps backbone that interconnects the switches.

To make sense of this, typical commercial structures in the USA and Europe allocate anywhere from 15-25 sq. m. per person (150-250 sq. ft.) and, for purposes of this Fact Check, we’ll use a density of 10 sq. m. per person. This means that the maximum population supported by a single RN-310 with 750 sq. m. of coverage will be 75 people – of which only a small amount will be consuming capacity from their serving Radio Node at any moment in time.

Clearly, there is a huge amount of RF link capacity available to serve the mobile devices in this example. Note that each RN provides more capacity to a 1,000 sq. m. area than many DAS (or remote radio head systems) provide to a 10,000 sq. m. building. We shared, in this post, our view of spectrum re-use and how the E-RAN is analogous to the wired network revolution that was led by the emergence of 10Base-T and Ethernet switches.

In our experience, there is rarely a situation in which an operator has to add a Radio Node due to RF resource contention.

Now, let’s look at the backhaul that connects the Services Node to the mobile core. When an E-RAN system is viewed from end to end, the sizing of the backhaul is generally the bottleneck in any performance scenario. What limits the capacity of an E-RAN system is the backhaul that the operator delivers. If the operator delivers 100 Mbps of backhaul to an E-RAN with 20 RNs, it will operate at <5% of its capacity. If an operator wants to add capacity to an E-RAN, all they need to do is to increase the backhaul coming into the building.

Fact Check Recap:
Question: How do you add capacity to an E-RAN?
Answer: Increase the size of the backhaul as-needed. No truck rolls or on-site work required.

To our readers, if you have additional questions or areas of interest around implementation, please contact us. We’re happy to Fact Check what you may have been told.

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

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


The Sober Reality of Small Cells

March 22, 2013

Mobile operators and vendors alike are awakening to the sober reality of the complexity involved in deploying 10s and 100s of hundreds of small cells in a very dense indoor and outdoor area. One cannot simply forget about 3G and “skip” to 4G – nor forget about Wi-Fi as an integral access technology.

Beyond the marketing hype, not all “small cells” are the same. This is no different than the Wi-Fi market 10 years ago. You simply do not deploy a Linksys where you need an Aruba system, or an Airespace system where Netgear does the job. The same market segmentation that took place with Wi-Fi over a decade ago, is now taking place in the emerging market of small cells.

A mobile operator cannot afford to deploy several access points where one solution can do the job, especially when competing for the lucrative medium to large enterprise market. Enterprises show a strong willingness to switch mobile operators for better coverage. The Market Opportunity for mobile operators in US and Europe is $100 billion for enterprise services. The business case for various small cell approaches was also covered during the panel Network Offloading during MWC. The pragmatic solution for operators and medium to large enterprises is a multi-access small cell system of 3G+4G+Wi-Fi that is an integral part of a larger network that can be deployed rapidly, and easily, and guarantee reliability.

Leveraging mobile operators for services beyond basic coverage and capacity, enterprises can save 35% a year by adopting such managed and hosted services, totaling $60 Billion in cumulative IT savings between 2014-2020. Why the importance of in-building coverage? Spectrum – it is like oil, and today this valuable licensed spectrum is a largely under-utilized asset indoors. Small Cell systems can help an operator re-use up to 50% of spectrum already owned.

Our five-year+ strategic focus on small cells as a system powered by the Enterprise LAN, interference mitigation, soft-handoff, multi-mode 3G/4G+Wi-Fi, and enabling services beyond coverage and capacity – to make deployments inside medium to large enterprises possible – is now being validated as big and small players are starting to come into our market.

Making and scaling a multi-access small cell system that is an integrated part of a mobile operator’s network – is not easy. A SpiderCloud system is deployable by a mobile operator in just days using SON, and is proven to handle over 100,000 data sessions and handoffs on a daily basis while providing reliable voice and data coverage for hundreds to thousands of employees with just one connection to the mobile core network.

It’s clear that there is tremendous interest and traction for multi-mode access using a scalable small cell system (>100 small cells with soft handoff and central coordination) to deliver reliable mobile services indoors for enterprise customers of any size.  In addition to performance metrics of the SpiderCloud scalable small cell system, operators and partners are now engaging us in “beyond coverage and capacity” planning with enterprise services focused on PBX and Cloud-based PBX integration, context-aware and location applications, security and compliance, and Wi-Fi as a service. We know the enterprise concerns, challenges and requirements. “Enterprise Insider” highlights Enterprise CIO and IT’s priorities and requests for Mobility Applications and Cloud Services (MACS) from mobile operators – as business customers transition from a wireless to a mobile enterprise.

What we do know is that multi-access Small Cells (3G+4G+Wi-Fi – as a market) is fast becoming a reality. Not all small cells are the same.

– Ronny Haraldsvik SVP/CMO
Twitter: haraldsvik