Omnitron: Give Me PoE, Quoth the Small Cell

Omnitron might sound like a robot that converts into a car, but the company actually does something decidedly less "Hollywood" -- though potentially useful -- for operators looking to eventually deploy small cells en masse.

Omnitron Systems Technology Inc. claims to be the first company to make a compact Network Interface Device (NID) that can power and help configure small cells, the tiny basestations that are expected to extend the coverage and capacity of 3G and 4G mobile networks over time.

What it is
Traditionally, the telephone network box -- as NIDs can also be known -- mark the end of the carrier network and the beginning of the customer premises wiring. In this scenario, however, the Carrier Ethernet 2.0-compliant NID connects the small cells -- clustered on a lamp post or on a rooftop -- to the carrier network, be that a mobile operator or a cable MSO that sends them Power over Ethernet (PoE).

"This eliminates the need for a bunch of injectors," says Ty Estes, marketing communications director at Omnitron. Less cable runs and deployment costs is important for carriers trying to keep costs down when -- or if -- they head towards mass deployments of small cells. (See: Small Cells Exposed! Securing the Mini-RANs and How to Turn Thin & Crispy 3G Into Deep Pan 4G.)

GM4 PoE NIDs are available in two models: The GM4-PoE+ and GM4-HPoE. Both models support the 802.3af PoE (15.4W) and 802.3at PoE+ (25.5W) standards per port, while the GM4-HPoE models also provide up to 60W of power per port. The GM4-PoE NIDs are available with full PoE power on up to four RJ-45 ports, and feature up to two SFP fiber ports that support G.8032 Ethernet Ring Protection Switching or EPON ONU interface.

Omnitron has various small cell demarcation deployment lay-outs here. Estes says that the NID can support ring or point-to-point or other network topologies.

"There's a lot of ways to skin a cat in regards to deployment models," notes Estes.

To that end, the Omnitron NIDs also support DOCSIS provisioning of EPON for cable operators. This allows MSOs to configure the NIDs remotely like they would a set-top box on the network. (See: Comcast Testing Small Cells – Sources.)

"That's a little forward looking right now," allows Estes.

Right now, Omnitron is showing off its boxes at trade shows round the world and getting into carrier trials. Estes says the company has the NIDs in "five or six trials" at the moment with carriers in Europe, Russia, and North America.

Still waiting for the small cell revolution...
Like all the other players in the small cell game, Omnitron is still trying to grok exactly when the small public access radios will become mass market for carriers. "The biggest challenge that they’re having right now...is right of way," suggests Estes.

Which is becoming something of an industry talisman these days. Part of the hold-up on small cells, it is suggested, is dealing with local authorities and utilities to get access rights to deploy small cells on buildings and poles.

Unlike the macro network cell sites, the operators themselves don't own the land that they deploy small cells on, so they have to deal with the people that do.

In short, the small cell deployments may be getting all wrapped up in red tape.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

COMMENTS Add Comment
MordyK 11/30/2013 | 11:31:50 PM
Re: For the record... I'm not one to make judgements on the precise network designs and all that, although it appears from both the link and elswhere that the FirstNet model is troubled. 

My suggestion however is more general for the urban public safety networks to be merged into a business of the utility poles. Many cities already have sizable deplyments of various wireless gear on street posts for security camera's and other needs and have significant budgets targeted at those deployments. SO instead of it costing the city they can combine it and make money while increasing the capbilities of the system.

If A successful FirstNet decides to hop on or join the public safety network all the merrier, and it will also take significantly less time to deploy as its just about going around and inserting modules, or depending on the small cells capabilities in that frequency simply enable them remotely, but the hard stuff such as power and backhaul are already in place.
DanJones 11/30/2013 | 10:55:39 PM
Re: For the record... Hmmm, it seems like the FirstNet business model is pretty hard to work:

DanJones 11/28/2013 | 6:04:23 PM
Re: For the record... Yep, let's hope...
MordyK 11/27/2013 | 7:02:37 PM
Re: For the record... This goes back to our discussion about municipalities deploying networks on their street furniture (with partnerships) and and allowing networks to use that network as a virtual provider. This can generate revenue and fund the public safety network / Firstnet and possibly city wide muni Wi-Fi.
DanJones 11/27/2013 | 2:06:35 PM
Re: For the record... Seems like it would be really hard to quantify how much data revenue city small cell deployments actually derive for operators too.
Carol Wilson 11/27/2013 | 2:00:51 PM
Re: For the record... Powering the small cell is definitely one of the challenges to small cell deployments and I believe Ethernet access players are looking to network powering as a solution that makes small cells more easily  deployed. 

That said, rights-of-way, security (which Sarah discusses today), backhaul, management - it's all under discussion right now. 
DanJones 11/27/2013 | 1:10:41 PM
For the record... I don't think the red tape line is the sole reason small cells are in limbo right now.


Other reasons I have heard lately:

-- Carriers are still figuring out how to make money off of them.

-- Still too expensive to deploy

-- Backhaul sync issues are still a big technical problem

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