This morning we announced that Verizon will be trialing SpiderCloud’s LTE-U small cell system. As most of you know, Verizon had selected SpiderCloud as a supplier of LTE enterprise small cell systems in December 2014, and today Verizon is deploying SpiderCloud dual-carrier LTE systems at enterprise locations across the country. Now, we are ready to take the next step with Verizon, towards LTE Unlicensed (LTE-U).
Verizon is the guiding force behind LTE-U, the ability to use unlicensed 5GHz bands to deliver faster data rates to LTE subscribers. With LTE-U, the mobile operator’s licensed spectrum remains the primary carrier, with unlicensed providing a boost when needed. The interest in LTE-U is driven by venues and sites where there is a very high density of people consuming large streams like videos, live streams or playbacks – places where subscribers are screaming for network capacity, and where mobile operators are struggling to delight them.
SpiderCloud E-RAN is ideal for these high-density venues. E-RAN is the industry’s only small system that works in places like multi-tenant business offices, shopping malls, hospitals, university campuses and concert halls. We are building a new LTE-U radio node that has the capacity to continuously monitor unlicensed channels. Since the baseband processor is on the radio node, the decision to use available unlicensed spectrum can be made in microseconds, just like Wi-Fi APs do. The Services Node acts as the central small cell coordinator, assigning unlicensed channels to radio nodes using a SON algorithm designed to maximize capacity.
There are others in the industry who like to call their distributed antenna systems or remote radio head systems “small cells”. We have always argued that radio heads and antennas are not small cells. Never were, and no amount of marketing will make them so. We expect these folks to have a really tough time when it comes to LTE-U.
We won’t bore with you all the technical details in a blog post, but just consider this example. Consider a LTE-U base station connected to a DAS system in a big shopping mall where there are hundreds of ad-hoc Wi-Fi networks. Typically, a single sector LTE base station provides coverage to an entire floor of the mall (say, 50K-100K sq. ft.). Whenever this LTE-U base station uses an unlicensed channel, no Wi-Fi AP on that floor can use that channel. How will the Wi-Fi users in the mall feel about that? And whenever, any of the 25-50 Wi-Fi APs on this floor use a particular channel, the LTE-U base station is expected to remain silent. Hmm… so, what value is the operator getting from their new LTE-U base station?
We would like to thank Verizon for their confidence in SpiderCloud, and look forward to working closely with them to make LTE-U a success.
– Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies
– Amit Jain, Vice President of Marketing & Product Management