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“…Just Another Brick In the Wall”?
December 12, 2014

I first heard this song in early December ’79, just after its release, now 35 years ago. We have all rebelled against something or someone at one part in our lives. “We don't need no thought control” and “Hey! teacher! leave us kids alone!" -- Pink Floyd’s music was relevant back then, and it’s relevant now. Roger Waters’s song (Education, Part II) is a protest song against rigid schooling in general and boarding schools.

Behind the brick wall, when you look beyond the one-page “Wall Mounting Kit” for easy to install radio heads (Huawei or Ericsson) you will find the undisclosed pages 2 through 99, and a long list of items needed to make radio heads (DAS) work.

Beyond the simple radio head, you’ll find dedicated cables (CPRI or Cat7a) that are connected to Indoor Radio Units (IRU), which then connects to dedicated Digital Units (DU) with maximum 12 sectors (IRU) per DU for each access technology (LTE or 3G). Each IRU connects to a DU via Fiber and the DU then connects back to the Ericsson RNC (for 3G), or the LTE EPC. Keep in mind that CPRI or Cat7a is not basic Ethernet. Nor can Radio DOT be deployed using existing Ethernet (via VLAN). It takes special handling and expertise to handle Fiber or Cat 7a cables. If you are deploying Radio Dot, Cat7a is not exactly a commonly used cable inside the Enterprise, and can cost 3-4x more per cable than Cat 5/6.

When you are maintaining or deploying DAS, your list of equipment is quite long. A plan could include over 30 different components, special cables and modules.

  • Coax, connectors, splitters or special cabling (Cat7a) which requires special handling
  • Cross band couplers, optical interfaces, boosters, housing panels, etc.
  • Master unit for optical Tx/Rx
  • Power supply and low power ‘Point of Interface’ or you may need Active DAS Tray Point of Interface
  • Male and Female connectors
  • Omni antennas, directional, MIMO or SIS0 directional
  • Coax cables and support for various type of mounts (roof, ceiling, basement, etc.), weatherproofing, sealant, etc.
  • Fiber Extenders
  • Sub-rack for the DC Remote PSU Modules
  • Tri-plexer for each access method
  • Accessory kits and stacking kits, etc.
  • AC/DC Converters for 66W or 100W
  • Fan Modules
  • And then there are the attenuators… and so on - It’s a long list

Cabling the Bricks in the Wall

On the outside, a CPRI or Cat7a cable may look similar to Cat-5/6 Ethernet, but make no mistake, it’s not. It takes a specialist to handle this, and enterprise people know this. IT people cringe when special cables are involved. Why?

Certain cables cannot be bent, crushed or “stressed”. Every cable has values for minimum bend radius and maximum “tensile loading”. (Yes - look it up if you need a good night’s sleep). Some special cables cannot hang freely for long distances or press against edges in an installation. Example: When pulling cable in conduit, all transition points must be kept smooth. In short, every cable must be treated like a baby!

As for the installation, this is where it becomes “fun.” Conduit runs are limited to 100 feet! And, you cannot have more than two 90-degree bends between pull points or boxes! Even working at night, conducting core drilling between floors for conduits with jam-packed risers in-building is also a logistics nightmare. Yes, you heard me. Electronic Industries Association/Telecommunications Industry Association 569, which is the Commercial Building Standard for Telecommunications Pathways and Spaces, even provides more granular details, if you care to find out.

And then there are building codes for optical-fiber cables, keeping in mind maximum recommended distance between main and intermediate cross-connects (4920 feet), and intermediate and horizontal cross-connects recommendations. Single-mode fiber has other regulations. In some cases, telecoms equipment is connected directly to an intermediate or main cross-connect, where connecting cables can be no longer than 98 feet. 

We could go on and on. The point is, CPRI is not Ethernet. It’s not simple Cat5/6 Ethernet pull. You need experts. See a good installation checklist overview here.

“Designed by R&D for use in Labs”

If you are contemplating Ericsson’s Radio Dot, keep in mind that you will need lots of Radio Dots and special Cat7a cabling to each of the Dots to power the 100mw radio heads. To “home run” each radio Dot over Cat 7 to/from the Indoor Remote Unit (IRU) means big install cost and several racks of equipment in the data center (Enterprise), considering you can only power 8 Radio Dots per IRU (LTE or 3G) and up to 12 IRU per DU. Each 14-unit rack powers a maximum of 96 Cat7a connected 100mw Radio Heads (or 48 LTE and 48 3G 100mw radio heads). Radio Heads by access technology: If you need 3G and LTE, then you need 2 Radio Heads (one each) which means double the amount of Cat7a cable pull. In brief, 3G+LTE means two full racks (14U each) of equipment if you require maximum reach with 96 100mw radio heads for 3G and LTE coverage. Of course, you will need special installation teams since this is a complicated installation.  Each rack (14u each) limits a 3G + LTE DAS coverage (48 3G + 48 100mw radios) to a maximum 250 to 300,000 square feet. A dual-band deployment would require two full racks, and total 110-120 100mw radios, each with a Cat7a cable pull. So, when you see the Radio Dot, you may think it’s simple.  When you understand what is needed behind the wall to power the Dot, you’ll question the establishment just like Pink Floyd. You’ll soon find out that ideas designed by R&D, for use in labs, may not be suitable in real-life enterprise environments.


Ericsson image of Radio DOT posted on Twitter.
Also see http://www.ericsson.com/thecompany/press/mediakits/radio-dot-system

The IT Friendly Approach

SpiderCloud Wireless has an IT-friendly approach with E-RAN.  The E-RAN system is proven to scale to 100 Radio Nodes (sectors), all powered over Ethernet LAN (or VLAN) with one Services Node, which provides one secure connection to the mobile core. First to market with a dual-mode 3G/4G system, the SCRN-310 Dual-band Radio Node has been in commercial networks since June 2014. It’s the first small cell, as part of a larger system, that’s capable of connecting 32 active users via the 3G band, while at the same time connecting 32 active users (128 RRC) via the LTE band (on one integrated SoC). The same Radio Node can now be software upgraded to switch the 3G band to 4G, making it capable of dual-band 4G+4G (150 Mbps), connecting 64 active users via the same Radio Node.

A dual-band 3G+4G deployment using SpiderCloud would only require one Services Node (1 unit in a rack) and require 25-30 SCRN-310 Radio Nodes (250 mw). The cost advantage for equipment and installation (as compared to Ericsson or Huawei) vs. DAS (radio heads) is 4-5x!

The Radio Node has a pedestal base that slides into a long bracket for ceiling or wall mounting. SpiderCloud Wireless pre-bolts the pedestal base onto the extrusion plate on the Radio Node.

Radio Nodes can be mounted on a wide number of surfaces including the following typical surfaces:

  • • Light grill: Use bolts, nuts and washers to secure the mount bracket using holes in the light grill. Adjust the mounting bracket until the bracket and light grill holes align.
  • • Mount directly on the wall or ceiling: Use drywall screws to secure the mount bracket directly to sheetrock or plasterboard on the wall or ceiling.

Installing a small cell should be as easy as installing a basic enterprise Wi-Fi AP, such as using a T-rail ceiling rail to avoid drilling holes in ceiling tiles.

The Radio Node is fully compliant with the IEEE 802.3at Power Over Ethernet (PoE+) specification. Per IEEE 802.3at, use standard Cat 5e, or better, twisted-pair cable with a maximum length restriction of 100 meters (328 feet) for PoE+.

Power is distributed over two pairs of the four available pairs in Cat 5e or better cables. The Radio Node can accept power on either used, or un-used pairs.

Usage of Ethernet LAN Deployment

By usage of standard enterprise Ethernet and a Radio Node installation process that is familiar with the very large pool of Wi-Fi trained installation companies, the cost of physical installation is significantly reduced as compared to telecommunications technologies that require specialized labor.

The optimal installations share the existing enterprise transport infrastructure to enable faster installation, and reduce capital construction costs for materials.

See the 60-second installation video: http://youtu.be/_iaj8Jex-vc

SpiderCloud’s Self Organizing Network (SON) capability configures and optimizes the small cell network to provide a high-performance mobile broadband coverage with very little user intervention. SON is a core product feature that dramatically reduces installation time, fine-tunes the network for high performance, and periodically optimizes the environment to maintain effective network operation. Without this feature, an installer would have to setup the network manually, requiring many weeks (depending on the network complexity) to create an optimal working configuration. However, as a result of this unique feature, the system is auto configured in less than an hour, thereby automating a fairly complex configuration and dramatically reducing the time-to-install.

See the 60-second installation video: http://youtu.be/_iaj8Jex-vc

Besides reducing time-to-install, the feature ensures optimal RF coverage and handoff within the SpiderCloud network, and with macro and inter-RAT networks. During network operation, this feature continually monitors the RF environment, makes adjustments to the radio transmit power to adapt to any changes in the RF conditions, and maintains optimal network access.

No More “thought control”

So, if you agree, “We don't need no thought control” and you’d want an IT-friendly approach to fixing in-building coverage and capacity, easy as Wi-Fi, -- then you too can protest against rigid cabling and installation procedures. You have a choice. If you plan to install something in an Enterprise, look to the companies which know and understand enterprise IT requirements.

The E-RAN 3G system is already commercially proven for three years. Other SpiderCloud Wireless customers include Vodafone UK, Vodafone Netherlands, and now also Verizon Wireless, plus leading mobile operators across several continents.

- Ronny Haraldsvik
SVP/CMO

Twitter: haraldsvik
spidercloud_inc

Don’t forget to sign up for the December 18th Intel-SpiderCloud Webinar: “In-Building Small Cell Services Opportunities for Enterprise IT and Mobile Operators” – hosted by HeavyReading.

 

 

 

 

 

Mobile as the Foundation for Enterprise Innovation
October 31, 2014

Smartphones have been unprecedented in their impact on a wide range of consumers, from individuals to global enterprises. When coupled with mobile networks for ubiquitous coverage and capacity, smartphones have the ability to commoditize innovation. What is “commoditized innovation”? Very simply, it’s a concept that can be developed, at a relatively low cost, into an application and be shared globally in a rapid manner.

Commoditized innovation share these common factors:

  • Low cost mobile devices: Manufacturing volume drives down unit costs.
  • Apple iOS and Google Android platforms: Devices and associated App stores reach all corners of the globe.
  • Mobile Software developers and open development environments: The pool of global talent that can build Apps is very large and diverse.
  • Mobile Services: These low cost services are embedded in the mobile operator’s network, and have uses in both personal and business App roles.  
  • Mobile Networks: Mobile operators reach all corners of the globe with their networks, meeting their subscribers indoor and outdoor coverage and capacity needs.

The Sun is Setting for Proprietary Communications Services

In many industrial and commercial environments, there can be numerous layers of communications technology like VHF/UHF walkie-talkies, pagers, VoIP handsets or badges, laptops, smartphones, tablets and other purpose built technology. Plus, each technology has an RF transmission medium that has it’s own coverage footprint within the facility they are used in, each footprint may cover all or part of the facility, and they all may be owned and managed by different departments.

This mix of communications technologies are impairments to innovation and, when the employees look at their smartphones, they believe that their existing communications technologies fall short of what they use in their personal lives. The impairments to innovation are numerous, but all of them revolve around failing to achieve economies of scale such that innovation is either impossible or too expensive to accomplish.

Innovation impairments include things such as:

  • High unit costs for the personal technology because the supplier makes 10’s of thousands, where a mobile handset supplier makes 10’s of millions.
  • Many of the personal technologies are single function. Just voice, paging or data. And there is no market demand for a higher function device at the price point that has to be charged to recover manufacturing costs.
  • With multiple RF mediums in-house, there is no easy way to improve indoor signals for all employee devices. Each one has to be uniquely dealt with, if at all.
  • There may be significant personnel overhead in “shadow IT”. “Shadow IT” are people who are performing an IT role (in this case, Telecom) who report to and are funded by a department.
  • Software developers, SDK’s, and other tools to do software innovation and integrate these proprietary systems into the back office IT systems that operate the business, are either not available or prohibitively expensive.

Mobile Platforms to the Rescue

Envision these same industrial and commercial environments with an RF environment that, in addition to global coverage, reaches every part of the facility (bring on the Small Cell technology!). Then add in common handset families (iOS and Android) that have a huge pool of off the shelf Apps, software developers and developer tools. It’s a recipe for innovation because these ecosystems conquer the economies of scale problem as they were always conceived - to scale to Billions of mobile devices.

Mobile innovation is fuelled by:

  • Low costs, high function personal technology in the form of smartphones and tablets.
  • The incumbent smartphone features, public Apps,and privately developed Apps with back office integration enable all employees to have much more power and information at their fingertips, along with fast access to any employee that they have to contact.
  • With a single RF medium in-house combined with Small Cell Networks, there IS an easy way to improve indoor signals for all employee devices.
  • All the funding allocated to “shadow IT” can be put to more productive use for the business.
  • Software developers, SDK’s and other tools to do software innovation and integration into the back office IT systems that operate the business are easily available and competitively priced.

Enterprise IT can best serve their employees and business units by consciously establishing a long-term innovation platform on mobile technology that enables the elimination of other legacy technologies that have inherent limitations that an individual enterprise cannot solve. The mobile platform approach, as it evolves over the next 5 years, will be become a competitive advantage for the enterprises that effectively embrace and exploit it. Mobility is the foundation for enterprise Innovation, if you let it be. Exciting times.

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

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

If You Can Scale Small Cells Inside, then Service IT: Small Cell Services at the Enterprise Edge
October 09, 2014

At the heart of SpiderCloud’s scalable 3G/4G small cell system is the Service Node (SCSN).

This is a “local” control point for the small cell network deployed inside the enterprise over existing Ethernet. It’s also where the enterprise edge meets the mobile operators edge network. SpiderCloud’s small-cell system can provide cellular capacity and coverage to over 1.5 million sq.ft. of space and support over 10,000 voice and data subscribers.

Now why does that matter you may say? Beyond coverage and capacity, after credibility has been established with the IT department that mobile services work reliably inside the building, the Services Node is a strategic point of entry into the enterprise IT environment for mobile operators and business partners to service IT, and a potential great revenue opportunity.

A local control point is essential for Local IP Access (LIPA), also known as local switching and local breakout. LIPA enables content caching, access to content-based and localized services. The Services Node offers a platform to host Virtual Network Functions (from any source) at the edge of the network.   As shown in the figure below, the SCSN supports up to three modules: two Access Modules (AM) and a Services Module (SM). 

The access module supports radio access technologies such as UMTS and LTE. The services module is designed to support third-party VNFs and is powered by an Intel Xeon processor. The module offers a Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) environment that enables hosting of multiple concurrent virtual appliances across different operating systems (Guest OS) and programming languages.  SpiderCloud has been working with 3rd party ISVs, to bring to market VNF’s associated with security, content filtering and content delivery. See more in Senza Fili’s recent report (“NFV lands in enterprise small cells”).

With the services module, mobile operators can host VNF’s at the edge. Recently, the new incoming chairman of the Small Cell Forum, Dr. Alan Law, pointed out the importance of small cell services, virtualization and leveraging processing power at the edge of the network in an interview with @Lightreading.

As an example, if you take SpiderCloud Wireless, for instance, and what they have with their services node, they have in essence a platform there potentially capable of running applications at the edge of the network already. In essence, you could start to exploit NFV in certain areas relatively quickly.”

SpiderCloud’s powerful services platform enables migration of content delivery and core network functions at the edge. Also, the Services Node becomes a single point of inspection for all mobile traffic coming into or leaving an enterprise or venue, enabling intelligent data filtering and caching applications. In addition, SpiderCloud’s 3G/4G Services Node offers location and presence detection capabilities that enable context aware VNF’s, or Network as a Service (NaaS) opportunities. Dr. Alan Law goes on to say:

As a mobile device moves, it reports measurements to and from networks. Having to pull all those measurements back takes a lot of bandwidth. So if you wanted a location function, you would push that location function to the edge of the network to process all those functions being reported, so you get the best granularity of the data, but without the burden of having to port those features deeper into the network.”

The Services Node provides a trusted connection to the Radio Nodes and a logical view into all devices on the network to enable secure services to any mobile device on the network. The SCSN enables mobile operator managed cloud and application services, such as MDM, BYOD, location and context-aware, security, and IP-PBX services. The Intel Quad-Core Xeon Processor is the basis for the services module, which enables us to host virtual machines on the Services Node.

With Intel, SpiderCloud has established several services partners to showcase how managed services for enterprise customers are enabled via the existing small cell system.

  • Security threat detection with virtualized Network Security Platform (NSP) to identify and prevent network security threats at the edge of the mobile network, before such threats can reach the core network, by blocking malicious packets sent by a mobile device.
  • Location and detection. Using a virtual machine hosted on the Services Node, IBM can demonstrate handset-to-location video and advertising “push” services for use at venues and shopping malls.
  • Caching at the Edge (stadiums). Saguna can show backhaul savings and user experience benefits of a centralized content cache on the Services Node as part of a scalable small cell system for large campus, venues and shopping malls.
  • Context Aware Applications and Location Based Services. SpiderCloud, HP and Vodafone UK won a Small Cell Forum award in June 2014 for innovative work in this area.
  • PBX Integration: Tango Networks (enterprise). Druid Software PBX for Hospitals.

 

You can read more about the progress of small cell services for the enterprise in one of these recent RCR Wireless articles:

Keep in mind, by fixing in-building mobility with a scalable small cell system capable of also offering managed mobility services, the blurring of the lines between the enterprise and service provider networks will extend the “edge” of the mobile network from the operator’s core into the enterprise premise – thus opening the door for IOT, LBS, NFV and UC services on ONE common platform.

A 2013 research study by Exact Ventures outlined a $100 billion emerging market opportunity for mobile operators in providing mobility services for enterprise customers. The research showed that enterprise customers could save 35% a year by adopting such operator-delivered managed and hosted services. This report and estimate would be wayyyy off. It could indeed be way more.

Meet with SpiderCloud to discuss small cells and services at one of these upcoming events.  Our next presentation is at Small Cells MENA in Dubai October 27-28, followed by Small Cell Deployment & HetNet in Atlanta on November 4-7.

- Ronny Haraldsvik
SVP/CMO

Twitter: haraldsvik
spidercloud_inc

Small Cell “Super Bass-O-Matic’76”?
October 07, 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

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