Airvana DMS Promises Small Cell Nirvana
Six months after announcing its LTE cloud-radio access network (C-RAN) small cell system for enterprises, Airvana is introducing the device management system (DMS) it designed to manage all those indoor nodes.
The new DMS borrows from Airvana Femtocell Service Manager (FSM), which it claims helped operators exceed 99% voice and data session success rates across millions of small cells, but is designed for OneCell, its distributed LTE controller and radio node system announced in June. (See Airvana Is Back With a 'Cloud RAN' 4G Biz Cell.)
The upgraded system gives operators a centralized view of their network of LTE Airvana small cells -- which can cover a range of 50,000 to 1 million square feet -- and lets them auto-configure new nodes, adjust the self-optimizing network (SON) settings in response to network and spectrum changes and diagnose problems, all without interfering with the macro network.
Airvana says the system, which can bring about 90% performance improvements for LTE small cells, will be commercially available in the second quarter of the year. It doesn't yet have named operator customers, but Michael McFarland, senior director of product management and marketing, says it has been trialing OneCell with the DMS with operators in Asia and Europe. (See Maximizing Spectrum ROI With Small Cells.)
McFarland says the new DMS employs more of a hybrid-SON approach than its predecessor in which some of the SON functions are performed centrally and some pushed down in an automated fashion. It pings handsets for reports on the network and incorporates that data for decisions about usage and handoff for that particular environment. He says the company has also built an improved user interface for the DMS and streamlined network functions and the software upgrade process.
Airvana is heavily focused on LTE small cells and was a big name in 3G CDMA femtocells as well. It sold its 3G macro business to Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) after the company sued it for misappropriating its technology in September of 2013. Ironically, Ericsson, along with smaller players with a distributed approach like SpiderCloud Wireless , is its biggest competition in the enterprise small cell market. (See Ericsson Buys Airvana Biz, Kills Lawsuit, Airvana Wins Injunction Against Ericsson and Verizon Taps SpiderCloud for Dual-Band 4G Small Cells.)
McFarland says its advantage over others that have typically focused on macrocell equipment is that they don't understand the need for automated configuration and plug-and-play systems that work at scale. Others don't even think about managing small cells at all, he says, while Airvana's DMS was designed for that.
"The management system is often overlooked," McFarland says. "It's only if you've been in a large-scale small cell deployment like we have with 3G that you'd even know about half of the things we do in our management system."
— Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading