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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

Twitter: haraldsvik

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

“Take A Chance On Me”… DAS DOT, A Year Later…
September 24, 2014

Almost to the day, a year ago, Ericsson entered the #smallcell arena with DAS DOT. Yes, not so much a #smallcell system. Very much a #DAS. However, the important thing is that @Ericsson joined in with the small cell industry (along with Radio Access Network vendors, Alcatel Lucent, @Nokia @Huawei, and now @Cisco), acknowledging to the world “Houston – we have an indoor coverage and capacity problem.” Since then, Ericsson engaged @SpiderCloud_Inc and Huawei in “slide warfare” with hopes of delaying customers’ decision-making process. This blog honors a year gone by (of “hot air combat”), and missed face-to-face panel opportunities to discuss Enterprise small cells (Ericsson has declined several invitations to be on panels with SpiderCloud and Cisco, most recently at CTIA).

It’s sort of like being a senior in high school. You’re the starting Quarterback on the football team. You’re already driving a car, and you have a steady girlfriend, and you have a date for the big prom. Then, a freshman approaches your girlfriend a few weeks before the big event and asks her to go to the prom with him, making big claims that he will take over the starting Q position on the football team, take the drivers license (before legal age) and drive her to the prom. Lots of promises! It could happen. But is it likely?

If you want to trip up an Ericsson executive, ask this simple question. How many DOTs, IRUs, DUs and cable runs are needed to provide 3G+4G coverage and capacity for an enterprise customer with 500,000 Square Feet of office space in a building with 10 floors? The answer may surprise you. Contact me to verify the answer you received from your Ericsson contact.

As you contemplate the answer, keep this in mind:

  • Ericsson macro network is a pre-requisite. 3G operation requires an Ericsson Radio Network Controller.
  • DAS DOT network requires dedicated fiber from the Digital Unit (DU) to the Indoor Remote Unit (IRU), and then dedicated Cat6e from the IRU to the Dot. Since each Dot supports only one band class, two Dots are required to support 3G and LTE. Two Dots mean two Cat6 cable pulls per location. All in all, a very expensive install, with no opportunity to share infrastructure with the enterprise.
  • DAS DOT requires dedicated, secure, and synchronous backhaul for 3G/LTE system. There is no way to share backhaul with the enterprise or use backhaul from an Internet Services Provider.
  • Need to add more Dots to increase coverage in a new wing of the building, or because you need more concentrated capacity? Well be prepared to add an IRU as well, and buy capacity licenses at the DU as well. Of course, if you expect usage to be static over the next 7-10 years, then no need to worry.
  • Capacity limited; depends on baseband unit. To add capacity, you have to add baseband unit and add radio head concentrators, which is costly.
  • Baseband units run on DC power (AC-DC convertor). Power-hungry: requires 300-400W per unit where multiple units are needed.
    - Electricity OpEx for a DAS system could run $25-30K/year compared to $500-700 for a SpiderCloud Services Node which requires less than 100 Watt of AC power and can share the Enterprise UPS System (1 unit needed)

Recently we were told by one of our customers, with a smirk on his face (because he knows us), that he had been told by his new Ericsson sales rep that… “SpiderCloud cannot offer enough capacity for cafeterias and auditoriums.” Come again, what!? That’s #redonkulous

Let’s see, we’re the first one out with a dual-band 3G/4G Radio Node (shipping since June ’14) and also dual-carrier 4G/4G radio Node. So, 2 LTE carriers of data and 128 VoLTE calls in 5,000 ft2 is more than sufficient for a subscriber per 20 ft2! Oh wait, where is Ericsson’s scalable small cell system for enterprise (or any vendor?)?  That’s right. Nowhere in sight.

When you deploy in-building wireless systems, having available capacity when and where needed, is essential. When comparing SpiderCloud to Huawei and Ericsson, (LTE comparison to be nice), there is a significant capacity advantage with a scalable small cell system approach vs. a DAS DOT shared capacity approach. After all, every small cell provides capacity to the user near the small cell and thus a great user experience!

Here are our assumptions:

  • SpiderCloud Radio Node covers 1,000 m2.
  • Ericsson IRU is connected to 8 Radio Dots that together cover 6,500 m2.
  • Huawei Lampsite rHub is connected to 8 LTE pRRUs that together cover 8,000 m2
  • One subscriber per 20 m2 & overbooking factor of 10

Please do not mistake this blog post for E-bashing. We’re simply a go-to blog for people for fact checking. Last year’s “JA DAS DOT” blog is our most popular read blog by far (ranked 40% higher than #2). So, when Ericsson celebrates one year (after announcing DOT) and still has not commercially shipped any systems and continues to claim it has a better in-building solution than our soon to be 3-year commercially proven 3G small cell system (and now 4G is shipping), then we cannot help ourselves. We simply have to bring out the Swedish Chef. 

Yes, the “Meatball” theory by the Swedish Chef is still in effect.

But, at least Ericsson followed up a year later with another announcement. They do now have a true small cell (pico cells in a small cell form factor). The stand-alone small cell is for small business implementations and shops, made for Ericsson-specific networks -- as an analyst points out.

 “The RBS 6402 lacks enterprise-specific optimizations and applications found in some enterprise-centric small-cell offerings. The system is not designed to overlay a non-Ericsson mobile network.”

When will the new small cell ship?  When will DAS DOT ship? Most likely in 2015.

What’s still missing from DAS DOT and the new small cell?  Still no support for value added services or #NFV, which is inherently built into the SpiderCloud small cell platform. NFV and small cell services is increasingly important to the Small Cell Forum, as Dr. Alan Law, new chairman, points out in the recent Light Reading article.

With the drive of standardization of equipment, that starts to open up a tremendous opportunities to take very adaptive and flexible techniques developed in the field of NFV and extend it to the edge of the network.”

* * *

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.”

Read more here “NFV lands in enterprise small cells” by Senza Fili Consulting in collaboration with RCR Wireless.

You can take the sassy DOT give-aways and sing and dance to the ABBA tune “Take a chance on me”… or you can go with the proven, scalable small cell system vendor, SpiderCloud Wireless. One scalable 3G/4G small cell system for coverage, capacity and services with reliable services for buildings up to 1.5 Million Square feet with ONE Services Node and 100 Radio Nodes – deployable in days over existing Ethernet (VLAN).

In celebration of our DAS DOT’s one-year blog anniversary we have a new DOT Video!

And, every chance you get, ask an Ericsson executive: How many DOTs, IRUs, DUs and cable runs are needed to provide 3G+4G coverage and capacity for an enterprise customer with 500,000 Square Feet of office space in a building with 10 floors?

Send us your E-answers. We promise, we will post the correct answer on this blog within the next couple of weeks.

- Ronny Haraldsvik, SVP/CMO (@haraldsvik)

- Amit Jain, VP of Product Management

Twitter: @SpiderCloud_Inc

Small Cell Deployment Success Factor (Enterprise): Pre-Sales Coverage Improvement Processes
August 27, 2014

In our two recent posts around operations Operationalize Small Cell Systems for Quicker Adoption by Enterprise Customers and Helping Sales Accelerate Enterprise Small Cell Deployments we discussed transforming business processes to industrialize small cell deployments, and applying the right people at the right times in the overall process.

Where we last left the discussion: the sales force has a branded scalable enterprise small cell product with branded support collateral and the E-RAN Estimation App on their smartphones. In the rest of this blog, we’ll connect the dots (no pun intended Ericsson) of how the estimates generated by the App can be used in a “Pre-Sales Coverage Improvement” process to rapidly provide a scalable small cell system quotation back to the Enterprise IT customer.

Please keep in mind, especially if you’re an engineering reader, that this is an E-RAN radio quantity sizing exercise, not a system engineering or design exercise. Consider the E-RAN app a financial pre-screening process designed to free up engineers from working on indoor improvements until there is an approved project. After the project goes through the screening process, and the enterprise customer signs an order for the system, then an actual project is started that ultimately culminates in a scalable small cell system implementation.

Customer Quote Generation

It is important to note that the E-RAN Estimator App can be used immediately with a back office quote generation processes after installation via e-mail.

It can also be easily integrated into a Customer Relationship Management “CRM” environment. A simple example is shown below.

Because the SpiderCloud E-RAN system is installed in a building in a limited number of configurations, it is ideally suited to a standardized quote via a CRM process.

Pre-Sales Model (example)

This example is based on assisting a mobile operator to create Pre-Sales Coverage sales framework. Assume this tool would be used with other known customer information to create a one-stop decision making tool to decide on funding of indoor coverage solutions.

The first four pieces of information are provided in collaboration with enterprise IT with the E-RAN Estimator determining the radio count. Installation by customer and use of VLAN are captured to allow the enterprise customer to see the cost difference if they contribute labor and a VLAN towards improving services in the building. The number of accounts and ARPU are sourced direct from the enterprise’s corporate account information in the billing platform. The business outputs are calculated from price lists and normal installation and project cost metrics.

The “required line growth for payback” is E-RAN/LAN amortization/APRU. We have observed that growth is driven by a “friends telling friends” behavior. At the June 2014 LTE World Summit, the CTO of Telecom Austria made the claim that: “We are seeing rebirth of coverage as an Operator differentiator.” Based on our observations of our systems in production, we agree!

On the systems cost, the enterprise could be asked to increase commitment to more mobiles in the contract, extend the contract, or fund some part of system in form of upfront capital, or a monthly expense to insure the operator has ROI on their capital. Assume that the sales team does not want to tell a valued enterprise that is having coverage problems, “NO”. This leaves the “NO” decision to do nothing firmly in control of the enterprise customer if a creative solution cannot be agreed upon.

The other approach we favor is to set the price of the radios such that it’s an “all-inclusive” cost, and bill them that way. This keeps the actual system costs of each site separated so there is not a complex loading of the actual costs into the billing system for each enterprise building, and keeps a handle on internal Opex of billing platform.

In summary, these are a sample of the approaches to providing a repeatable process that our mobile operator’s have implemented, or are considering, to help realize both the velocity possibilities afforded by an E-RAN, and preserve scarce engineering resources for business qualified indoor improvements.      

If the reader of this blog is a SpiderCloud customer or channel partner, please contact us if you want to learn more about CRM Integration, the process, origin spreadsheet used in blog or desire a custom seminar conducted with your organization on creating a Pre-Sales environment that fully exploits our EASY-30 process of E-RAN technology and Estimator App. 

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

Twitter: @EMobilityInside
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