If we’re not complaining about poor signal in the middle of a farmers field, it’s the disastrous indoor coverage, but Ericsson is moving to soothe the masses.
One of the problems is with modern buildings. Modern building materials can block outdoor radio signals, therefore indoor coverage problems cannot be addressed by increasing outdoor radio deployments. Ericsson’s solution is to bring additional products to the market, in this case it’s the 5G Radio Dot, a small cell radio designed to improve coverage indoor ahead of the influx of the tsunami of 4K/8K video streaming, VR/AR, and immersive media which 5G promises.
“Adding small cell solutions to our 5G portfolio is a natural part of the network evolution. Enterprises have been asking for first-rate connectivity indoors, as well as higher speeds and capacity to serve advanced use cases that cannot be addressed by traditional indoor systems,” said Nishant Batra, Head of Product Area Network Infrastructure at Ericsson. “Our 5G portfolio, bolstered by small cells, will enable operators to meet these demands.”
Ericsson claims the 5G Radio Dot takes less than half the time to install compared to other indoor solutions, while it will support the new 5G mid-bands (3-6GHz) with speeds up to 2Gbps. The Radio Dot products are already in the market for customers trying to improve indoor 4G coverage, but now it has a 5G sticker on it.
The newly configured products can just replace what customers have in place now, using the same cabling infrastructure, same network architecture and dot locations. In theory, it should be a simple change over once the 5G dream is here. Trials will be taking place across 2018, and the Dot should hit the shelves in 2019.
You can almost imagine a couple of marketing executives congratulations themselves with a kale smoothie as they came with this idea to market small cells to enterprise customers.
It’s an out there idea which combines two seemingly important points; firstly, the small cell product from Sprint can ‘stick’ onto any Cisco WiFi infrastructure, and secondly, the target market is IT crowd, who stereotypically like comic books. Well done guys, reward yourselves with a flannel shirt and a new pair of jeggings.
What next you ask? BatMEC, lurking in the shadows to cache your data. Thor’s hammer of 5G, crushing your data requirements. Captain Rural America, leading the charge against the evil not-spots hiding in the barn.
Or how about SuperNFV – is it a bird, is it a plane, no it’s a network architecture concept that uses the technologies of IT virtualization to virtualize entire classes of network node functions into building blocks that may connect, or chain together, to create communication services.
“This innovative LTE small cell literally clips onto existing Cisco WiFi infrastructure and can be deployed in less than 30 minutes, providing a very cost-effective way to rapidly improve indoor service,” said Robert Kingsley, Director of Small Cell and WiFi Development at Sprint. “We’re excited to keep expanding our toolbox of small cell solutions with this latest innovation for the enterprise.”
All joking aside, it isn’t the worst idea in the world (well, the name is shockingly awful). An enterprise can deploy SpiderCloud LTE Radio Nodes (RN) on its Ethernet LAN. The RNs connect to SpiderCloud’s Services Node (SN), located on the enterprise LAN. Sprint then claims a network of 100 Radio Nodes and 1 Services Node can provide over a gigabit of capacity and coverage across a public venue or office as large as 1.5 million square feet.
Right now SpiderCloud LTE Radio Nodes support Sprint’s 1.9 GHz spectrum band, with plans to extend support for Sprint’s 2.5 GHz band is in mid-2018. Let’s just hope this doesn’t clash with ComiCon or Sprint will be well and truly screwed.
Ericsson has announced the launch of a couple of new small cell solutions, which are pretty simple ideas when you think about it.
The theme here doesn’t seem be being overly clever, it’s about being practical. Presenting ideas which won’t revolutionise the industry, but more about taking existing technologies and applying them in a way which improves business operations. That’s according to Martin Ljungberg, Product Manager for Small Cells Solutions at Ericsson.
“This isn’t rocket science from a technology perspective,” said Ljungberg. “It’s about identifying a challenge and presenting a suitable solution.”
The challenge here is mobile broadband coverage. With the rise in large or unlimited data plans, it has no longer become a necessity to connect to Wifi once you enter a building. In years gone, asking for the Wifi password was one of the first things done, but not anymore as people are happy to eat into the mountain of data which they have as part of their contract.
According to Ericsson’s own research, 60% of people are unhappy about the service and experience which they have when connecting to mobile broadband indoors. The first two products are designed to tackle this challenge.
Firstly, the Multi-Operator Dot delivers a set of Radio Dots that can be shared between multiple operators, with one operator managing the system while others provide radio frequency signals. Secondly, the Multi-Dot Enclosure combines multiple Dots in a single enclosure. It’s a simple idea, but you bring together a couple of operators and set up the small cell site in the building. Costs are brought down and there is only need for one installation crew to set upon the building.
Right now Ericsson needs to get agreement from the operators before installing; there needs to be commitment beforehand. But as the appetite for the small cell market increases, there could be potential for companies like Ericsson to install the gear and provision to operators later on. Ljungberg noted the appetite for the small cell market is still small for the moment.
The final offering is the Strand-Mount Unit for outdoor micro radios. And once again, there isn’t too much complexity in this idea.
“It’s not rocket science but it enables scalable street level deployment very easily.”
Essentially, MNOs who want to install the radios on the existing grid, can hang the units on aerial coax, fibre, or electricity cables. Aerial-strand deployments are critical for scaling outdoor small cells, while this strand-mount unit can support up to four micro radios, enabling multiple operators to utilize the same mount. It’s a simple idea which can allow for increased bandwidth, which make use of the physical infrastructure which is already there.
Sometimes the simple ideas are the best ones.