& cplSiteName &

Indoor Market Driving LTE Small Cell Push

Sarah Thomas
6/26/2014
50%
50%

While the public access small cell market is slowing getting off the ground, indoors -- both residential and enterprise -- remains fertile ground for small cells to fix voice and coverage issues, respectively. (See Lessons From Your Friendly Neighborhood Small Cells.)

It's not something you'll hear much about, but millions of residential femtocells are being automated worldwide as carriers lean on it for an indoor voice solution, Heavy Reading analyst Gabriel Brown said while moderating a panel of small cell heavyweights at the Big Telecom Event (BTE) last week in Chicago. The numbers aren't nearly as high as they are for WiFi -- most every home with broadband now has WiFi -- but residential femtocells have seen steady, significant growth over the past few years. (See How Heavy Reading Called Small Cells Right and Know Your Small Cell: Home, Enterprise, or Public Access?)

At the same time, the enterprise small cell market is taking off, but more so as a fix for poor indoor coverage. Ronny Haraldsvik, senior vice president and CMO of SpiderCloud Wireless , said that, after a slow start, the company has seen a "tremendous amount of demand" in the past 12-18 months. This has been helped by the entrance of big players like Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) in the market. (See SpiderCloud Shipping LTE Biz Small Cells and Ericsson Boasts Small Cell Breakthrough.)

The vendors are finally starting to overcome operator hesitancy around protecting the macro network. ("Don't [expletive] with the macro network" was SpiderCloud's founding philosophy, after all.) They are also becoming convinced of the business case for it -- not just in keeping enterprise customers happy, but also in treating small cells as a facilitation point for enterprise services, Haraldsvik said.

"Our biggest hurdle is convincing RF engineers that the system works," he said. "It doesn't matter if anyone has done it. They have to be convinced it doesn't interfere with the macro."

Arun Bhamidimarri, business owner for small cells and WiFi solutions for Ericsson North America, agreed that the indoor environment is the primary driver for small cells, and that the market is moving in that direction. The vendor plans to start testing its Radio Dot indoor system at the end of the second quarter. (See Ericsson Expects Smooth Sailing for Radio Dot .)

The consensus among the panelists, which included Taqua LLC CTO John Hoadley and Boingo Wireless Inc. CTO Derek Peterson, was that WiFi is ubiquitous and often the first place operators look to solve indoor challenges, but fixing poor voice coverage and quality still necessitates small cells indoors. Even as voice over WiFi, which Taqua powers for Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and others, takes off, there is an acute need to fix the cellular voice and indoor coverage issues. (See Taqua Lets Mobile Users Talk Over WiFi and Taqua Extends VoWiFi to UMTS.)

At the same time, the need is shifting from 3G to 4G LTE -- a trend reflected in recent vendor announcements. Though 3G fallback will be around for quite some time, the demand is now for LTE small cells. (See Airvana Is Back With a 'Cloud RAN' 4G Biz Cell, NSN to Take Its Flexi Zone to Work, Vodafone Launches Small Cell Service in UK, Samsung Snags Verizon 4G Small Cell Indoor Deal, and Verizon Deploys AlcaLu's LTE Small Cells .)

"Quite a few vendors pushing on indoor LTE small cells because so many carriers want an LTE-only solution in the next few years," Brown said.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(9)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
joes8888
50%
50%
joes8888,
User Rank: Light Beer
9/2/2014 | 8:10:30 PM
Re: Advantage
The networks need to be abstracted one layer: ie SON. Shouldn't matter what the RAN technology is. The move to all-IP systems will support the next 20 years of of iteration.

Subject-matter experts who are tasked to build networks see the various technologies as tools in the toolbox. Different tools needed for different situations. Sometimes it's coverage, sometimes, it's capacity, sometimes it's both. And of course many other metrics, like power, cost, space, etc.
SachinEE
50%
50%
SachinEE,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/28/2014 | 5:21:31 AM
RE: The growth of Small cell market
I also agree to the fact that the indoor environment is the primary driver for small cells. As a result, the market is being driven towards that direction. The truth is that WiFi is found almost at every corner of the globe. Almost every home and office today uses WiFi applications. However, there are challenges such as poor voice coverage that requires a little contribution from the small cell indoors. Most vendors today treat small cells as facilitation point for enterprise services and this is great news.
gregwhelan
50%
50%
gregwhelan,
User Rank: Lightning
6/27/2014 | 8:43:30 AM
Re: Advantage
The ideal end game is to integrate indoor small cells with Wi-Fi....  

1. Single MNO branded customer experience,

2. Enhanced traffic management, intelligent off-loading....

3. Default off-load to Wi-Fi is not always the best option.

4. MNOs need to fill their LTE network first, then worry about off loading... LTE traffic keeps the "meter" running.  

5.  The MNO's marketing depart can offer enhanced data plans that include wi-fi and add wi-fi only device (e.g., tablets, laptops) to their "family plans".

6. Eliminates the indoor trade off of "good data" or "good voice"

Thoughts?
Atlantis-dude
50%
50%
Atlantis-dude,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/26/2014 | 6:34:26 PM
Re: Advantage
WiFi calling has been around for several years, but has it really caught on ?
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
6/26/2014 | 4:55:25 PM
Re: Advantage
wanlord - Good point about handoffs. Having traveled from Columbus, Ohio, to San Diego via DFW, I am keenly aware of the inconvenience of reconnecting to multiple WiFi hotspots in succession. 

Wouldn't HotSpot 2.0 fix those problems?
wanlord
50%
50%
wanlord,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/26/2014 | 3:23:29 PM
Re: Advantage
@Sara - I tend to agree to a point but you are right, if service sucks on WiFi like everyone has experienced in busy hotels like in Chicago where they still charge you, and you are forced to use cellular and then you start getting those friendly text reminders that you have reached 75% of your bandwidth caps watching Netflix :-)
wanlord
50%
50%
wanlord,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/26/2014 | 2:31:34 PM
Re: Advantage
Sure, if you are on cellular, you are likely going to have a seemless handoff from tower to small cell or any combination, no manually re-connecting to a new hotspot SSID, etc. 
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
6/26/2014 | 2:20:30 PM
Advantage
Do small cells provide advantages over WiFi to the consumer, business customer, or carrier?
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
Featured Video
From The Founder
Light Reading is spending much of this year digging into the details of how automation technology will impact the comms market, but let's take a moment to also look at how automation is set to overturn the current world order by the middle of the century.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
December 5-7, 2017, The Intercontinental Prague
March 20-22, 2018, Denver Marriott Tech Center
May 14-17, 2018, Austin Convention Center
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
SmartNICs aren't just about achieving scale. They also have a major impact in reducing CAPEX and OPEX requirements.
Hot Topics
Juniper's New Contrail VP Hails From Google
Craig Matsumoto, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading, 11/15/2017
Eurobites: Telefónica Reckons Plastic Is Fantastic for FTTH
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 11/15/2017
AT&T's Lurie Leaps to Synchronoss as New CEO
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/17/2017
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Partner Perspectives - content from our sponsors
The Mobile Broadband Road Ahead
By Kevin Taylor, for Huawei
All Partner Perspectives