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


Kista plays catch-up… again!

September 22, 2015

shoosewisely_0So, efforts to target the enterprise IT buyer by the mobile infrastructure industry received another strong validation last week. If you recall, SpiderCloud’s strategic collaboration with Cisco to deliver compelling offerings to enterprise customers was unveiled at MWC15. Well, it looks like Ericsson has finally realized that their “carrier-grade Wi-Fi” is not good enough for enterprise, and HP has realized that they cannot turn a blind-eye to licensed spectrum. So, here they are with a new press release.

17 Sep 2015 – Ericsson Press Release

Highlights:

  • Bilateral reseller agreement opens up enterprise market opportunities beyond Ericsson’s carrier-grade Wi-Fi and provides go-to-market opportunities for Ericsson’s industry-leading small cells through HP’s global enterprise channels
  • Leverages HP’s acquisition of Aruba Networks through integration of HP’s enterprise WLAN technology into Ericsson RBS 6402 picocell

There are a number of apparent gaps in the technology collaboration that appear problematic and make us ask questions, such as:

  • It only covers the RBS 6402, which is a picocell product targeted at the SMB market (up to 5,000 m2 building). The medium-large building “Radio Dot” platform is visibly missing from the announcement. Is HP-Aruba Wi-Fi in-scope for the Dot, or does a parallel infrastructure need to be put in place?
  • Where is support for enterprises who have HP-Aruba systems in-place now? We don’t see it. By contrast, current generation Cisco AP’s sport a modular port where our jointly developed cellular Clip-On module can be simply plugged into them. This provides for an implementation that leverages the pre-existing enterprise transport infrastructure, to quickly bring critical mobile service to the Cisco enabled buildings.
  • What are the RF deployment tradeoffs for implementation to stay within the standards based PoE+ power budget? From a product perspective, will there be multiple versions of the RBS 6402 that include the different mixes of 3G, LTE and Wi-Fi radios, or only one version? And, how many radios can be active?

What’s our take on the commercial effects?

The reseller agreement validates that mobile wireless infrastructure vendors have to find a way to offer their products directly to Enterprise. We have seen this trend emerging over the last three years as mobile has become business critical, and energy efficient (metal coated) window glass rollouts are accelerating.

While this transition was started with the emergence of scalable small cells that are “IT friendly” and achieve a Wi-Fi price point, the completion of transition will be stable, operator models that facilitate “frictionless adoption” by enterprises. This change in thinking is at the vanguard of many operators whose customers are demanding better service. We documented some of the building blocks to the future in our post Enterprise Small Cell Deployment Insights as a start point for commercialization thinking about the transition.

Finally, the technology exchange involved in the agreement is not clear on the roles of each of the Wi-Fi divisions. The need to seek an external source for 802.11ac technology for the RBS 6402 raises red flags. On the RBS 6402, there are additional new questions beyond our Small Cell “Super Bass-O-Matic’76”? post that unpacked the technology realities of the first RBS announcement.

As always, nothing is simple when planning for the complex landscape we live in globally.

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

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


If You Can Scale…Cloud and Managed Services $ Will Come

June 1, 2015

Next week, the Small Cell community once again gathers in London at the annual Small Cells World Summit. This year is special for us! We are, for the first time, showcasing how edge and cloud computing enable new Smart Building and Unified Communications managed services for enterprise customers in collaboration with our new partner Cisco.

Game Changer #1: SpiderCloud + Cisco + enterprise installed base of Wi-Fi

At MWC this year, Cisco and SpiderCloud announced a strategic collaboration. Cisco is now reselling our entire (easy to install) small cell portfolio under the USC 8000 Series brand. The Cisco USC 8000 Series access points are available as standalone units, or as plug-in modules for the Cisco Aironet 3600/3700 Wi-Fi access points using SpiderCloud’s technology. The plug-in radio module is a game changer! Now, the entire installed base of Aironet 3600/3700, inside enterprises across the globe, can be 3G+4G enabled in seconds (the time it takes to plug in the module) – something no other vendor can do.

Game changer #2: Services Collaboration!

For many years we have showed how our Services Node is a catalyst for services. An on-premises controller (Services Node), with a services module, can enable managed cloud and application services beyond basic coverage and capacity.

We have been working with leading companies to show use-case examples:

  • IBM for handset-to-location video, and advertising “push” services for use at venues and shopping malls.
  • HP and Vodafone UK for in-building location (which won us all an award from the Small Cell Forum in 2014).
  • Intel/McAfee for policy enforcement and identify and prevent network security threats at the edge.
  • Saguna for backhaul savings and user experience benefits using a centralized content cache.
  • Druid and Tango for extension of enterprise UC, PBX and mobile call services inside and outside the enterprise network. See Druid’s hospital use case.

Ken Rehbehn (Principal Analyst, 451 Research/Mobile) puts this into context:

“Enterprises recognize the strategic importance of mobile communications as a tool for business agility and efficiency, but simple in-building coverage and capacity fixes may not be sufficient. By augmenting in-building small cell mobile services with flexible mobile edge computing capabilities, enterprises gain a potent toolkit to get the most value out of smart building and Unified Communications applications.

Next week, at the Small Cells World Summit, we will provide further insight to how the Services Node drives services revenue beyond coverage and capacity:

  • How – the mobile device IMSI can be paired to the enterprise active directory for authentication, as well as provide broadcast alerts within the building where the controller is deployed.
  • How – Smart building operations benefit from mobile devices to improve zone heating and air-conditioning usage by monitoring the number of mobile devices and location within the building or campus.
  • How – you can improve building security access by using mobile devices as secondary identification and verification to building badge access.
  • How – the small cell system can enable location and context aware services and execute building-wide alerts to all mobile devices connected to the LAN.
  • How – compliance services can be enabled with policy filtering and identify and prevent mobile LAN network access to non-compliant web sites.
  • How – you can improve network security by blocking malicious packets sent by a mobile device within the LAN, and protect a device from malicious packets sent by a server on the Internet.

Game Changer #3 Services Revenue

The great majority of large businesses would pay over 30% more per-employee for an indoor cellular solution with managed services (iGR survey).

With our eco system partners, and now Cisco, a scalable small cell system deployed over a basic Cat5e LAN (or VLAN), can indeed open up a $100B services market with smart building and Unified Communications (Exact Ventures report).

SpiderCloud’s scalable small cell system provides real-time coordination and distributed SON capability up to 100 dual-band 3G+4G or 4G+4G access points (up to 200 sectors of capacity), enough to effectively offer reliable managed services for buildings and offices up to 1.5 million square feet.

DAS is no-go on Services

Unless you have IT funds like Google and Apple, managed cloud and applications services is a no-go. As we pointed out in the “DAS is D.E.A.D (as we knew it)” blog, and our blog about Ericsson Radio Dot (a year later), enabling services beyond coverage and capacity for DAS-based systems is simply a non-starter.

Our scalable small cell system technology is in use with América Móvil/Telcel, Avea, Verizon, Vodafone UK and Netherlands and Warid Telecom, among others.

See us at Small Cells World Summit next week (June 9-11 in London), or look for us at these upcoming events:

Keep in mind that if you have an IT-friendly and scalable small cell system, you can enable cloud and managed services to increase ARPU.

Ronny Haraldsvik
SVP/CMO
SpiderCloud Wireless
Twitter: @haraldsvik


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


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


“Turn Off Wi-Fi!” – Could this be the answer?

May 9, 2013

Sounds far-fetched, doesn’t it? However, the effect of turning off Wi-Fi at work and other venues is a predictable outcome of the acceleration of the Consumerization of IT trends – when 3G/LTE works as promised. Let’s explore the decisions that result in device owners consciously turning off Wi-Fi.

First, some context:

  • “I asked my kids why their wireless data use had jumped on their smartphones. They said that the school had blocked Facebook and YouTube on Wi-Fi and most students had stopped using it while at school.” – A recent comment by a highly reputable Mobility Analyst
  • “I switch off Wi-Fi when I get to work because my smartphone and tablet don’t work right on our Wi-Fi.” – A comment by a Product Manager at a large mobile operator
  • Blurring the Lines of Networks (Enterprise & Mobile) – (a recent blog)

Why is Wi-Fi turned off? The shared theme is legacy infrastructure configurations and decisions are easy to work around simply by opting out to a medium that cannot be controlled by the IT organizations, best explained by Newton’s third law of motion: To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction.

Within the enterprise, there are two legacy areas of interest:

Service Blocking

  • ACTION: Security people block availability of select services on enterprise and guest Wi-Fi.
  • REACTION: The device owner TURNS OFF Wi-Fi in favor of mobile 3G/LTE, goes to Starbucks, or tethers a connection that IT cannot control.

Legacy Firewalls

  • ACTION: Smartphone and tablet core services/apps are partially functional while behind the enterprise firewall.
  • REACTION: The device owner TURNS OFF Wi-Fi in favor of mobile 3G/LTE, goes to Starbucks, or tethers a connection that IT cannot control.

Newton’s law shows us that the reactions to both legacy deficits are the same: move to a wireless service that functions as the device owner expects it to. This reaction in both the BYOD and COPE ownership models is expected, as there is an assumption of mixing personal and business usage while at home and work.

Gartner reported this week that by 2017 BYOD becomes the norm in enterprises. Assuming the details are ironed out to make this an equitable reality for device owners and the enterprise, enterprise IT will move their trust boundaries closer to their data centers and implement a strategy that assumes a mobile device is an exclusively remote access device no matter it’s location. If the security people continue to apply service blocking rules even on guest Wi-Fi, mobile operator provided wireless is destined to become the desired destination of device owners.

As mobile operators deploy small cells systems that incorporate 3G/LTE/Wi-Fi, the pervasive availability of service will help make the transition invisible with EAP/SIM authentication or similar forms of primary/secondary device and user authentication. Wi-Fi only networks will start to fade from most cellular-sponsored services and enterprises will start to demand the same from its own IT infrastructure. From a functional perspective, wireless network choice will be an automatic process with service quality, function, and underlying connection automation and intelligence driving the selection process. Exact Ventures has also determined that there is a significant market for enterprise IT operations to outsource guest Wi-Fi operations and compliance to their mobile operator. The driver behind the move to outsource guest Wi-Fi is very clear; when you have finite staff, they must be focused on the core business and activities that drive competitive advantage.

At SpiderCloud, we have taken the approach that all Radio Access Network technology is needed, and mobile operators are positioning themselves to provide wireless services to their enterprise customers. For many enterprises where BYOD/COPE is rising and the Wi-Fi switch is turned OFF at work by device owners, immaculate coverage and capacity of the mobile operator’s infrastructure will be a key competitive advantage in that enterprise.

The important thing to remember is that “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.”

If we make it simple and secure to both access and use networks, there will be no need to “turn off” Wi-Fi, or turn off any radio access that will help make us more productive at work, on-the-go, and at home.

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

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


Blurring of the Lines of Networks (Enterprise Wi-Fi)

April 1, 2013

In a recent post, Blurring the Lines of Networks (Enterprise & Mobile), the enterprise’s trust boundary is proposed to move closer to the Data Center(s) as an enabler of adoption of mobile operator delivered network infrastructure and devices. To illustrate how moving the trust boundary can enable adoption, mobile operator delivered enterprise Wi-Fi will be explored.

Decomposing Enterprise Wi-Fi:

  • Enterprise Wi-Fi has traditionally been viewed as an authenticated SSID that grants you access to the internal network with two functional components of 802.1X authentication and transport access to the internal network (behind the firewall).
  • 802.1X authentication, via one of the EAP types, connects to an enterprise directory via RADIUS. This class of authentication is required to provide scalable authentication, logging, and ties identities to IP addresses for security and forensic purposes.
  • Transport access to internal network is just that, it’s the same internal network that the other computers in the enterprise use.

To illustrate the boundary diagram and the present situation, the simple drawing below will be used.

This is the model most widely deployed inside enterprise offices to allow an iPad to be attached to Wi-Fi as a full citizen and connect to business applications behind the firewall. This strategy assumes that the iPad (regardless of ownership: COPE or BYOD) is a managed part of the computing environment. If COPE is a new acronym to the reader, it’s philosophy and definition can be found at the EMF here.

For a mobile operator who wants to offer Wi-Fi as a Service, this approach subjects the operator to intense scrutiny about not only operating the Wi-Fi, but also data security. The enterprise will have concerns because the majority of the data traffic inside the network is unencrypted and the Wi-Fi attached devices, depending on network design, can have visibility to all other hosts and servers anywhere in the network and Data Center(s).

To illustrate the benefits of blurring the lines to the enterprise, the drawing below shows moving the trust boundary to the edge of the Data Center(s), and assuming the internal private networks are untrusted (like the Internet).

With this approach, the mobile operator’s Wi-Fi infrastructure can be easily joined to the enterprise because all managed devices use a remote access strategy where the devices behave the same at work, home, or coffee shop. The mobile operator doesn’t have an ability to see enterprise data, and 802.1X is reduced to a secure and scalable way to allow devices onto an enterprise network. Security and forensics teams will be happy because trust is not extended to the mobile operator and the RADIUS logs can still be saved and processed with processes developed for yesterday’s architecture.

How does this help Enterprise IT with the BYOD problem? 

  • It levels the playing field by keeping all mobile devices (laptop, tablet, or smartphone) on the outside of the Data Center(s) such that the BYOD problem space becomes a Mobile IT issue along with all company issued mobile devices.
  • IT has to solve for secure data and access, once, for all classes of devices.
  • Mobile devices behave consistently at work, home, or coffee shop.

For enterprise architects, consider extending this strategy to the wired network and desktop computers. The concerns of security people around hackers or employees with unknown machines and direct access to an enterprise Ethernet jack can also be mitigated.

Recommendation to Enterprise IT professionals (As a former Enterprise Infrastructure Architect for a global brand)

1. Move the trust boundary for Wi-Fi closer to the enterprise Data Center(s) with a long term solution that can address performance and capacity needs of your organization. There are a variety of technologies available that can solve for moving the trust boundary (contact me, if you’re interested in my candidates).

The opportunities exist for mobile operators to help address enterprise BYOD and mobility challenges for enterprise IT departments and cultivate value-added services beyond coverage and capacity in the Enterprise space — 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 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.

Innovation in mobile, and the increasing need for IT to deliver against more mobile requirements while reducing cost and complexities, and move items from the Capex side to the Opex side of the budget, is blurring the lines between mobile and Enterprise networks, and creating value on both sides.

– 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


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