SpiderCloud is introducing updates to its line of enterprise small cells to keep up with operators' evolving network needs and make the business case more appealing for enterprises.
All the upgrades, which SpiderCloud Wireless will show off at Mobile World Congress, are accessible via a hardware or software update to the vendor's existing small cells. (See SpiderCloud Banks $20M in Fresh Funding.)
They include carrier aggregation for simultaneous 3G + LTE service or dual-carrier LTE, promising peak rates up to 300 Mbps; multiple operator support via dual-band LTE radio nodes that can be shared by two operators; and the addition of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons to existing small cells.
The updates are mostly evolutionary for SpiderCloud, but necessary for the vendor to both meet operator's evolving network needs and to compete against the big guys, like Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO). (See Ericsson Unveils LTE-U Plans for Small Cells and Small Cells Key to Network Capacity Expansion – Alcatel-Lucent CTO.)
"It's incremental, but it's a good story because operators don't want to invest in new boxes, and they want to see that this is a company -- particularly a startup -- that continues to invest in the product and innovate," says Current Analysis analyst Peter Jarich.
Perhaps the most interesting development is the addition of BLE beacons, which will make it easier to install, manage and do maintenance on an organization's small cells. Art King, SpiderCloud's director of enterprise services, says that the beacons are accessible via an iOS or Android app that lets the user locate a small cell that might need service without breaking out a ladder, a feature systems integrators have been asking for.
But, where BLE beacons get interesting for enterprises -- and potentially wireless operators -- is for the services they can enable. Small cells' potential to deliver location and context-aware mobile services has long been discussed but not yet deployed. These could include location-based advertising or, King suggests, business apps such as the ability to automatically send an alert if you're late to a meeting on a large campus, along with the exact amount of time you'll be late based on knowing the distance and route. (See Sprint Plans WiFi + Lync Enterprise Bundle and LTE Small Cells Set to Be Big in 2015.)
"2015 to 2016 is all about beyond basic coverage and capacity," SpiderCloud CMO Ronny Haraldsvik adds. "It's, what else can you do?"
BLE makes installation and management easier for enterprises, which justifies its inclusion, but it also offers the potential to make money for the enterprise going forward, says Jarich. For that reason it should appeal to enterprises and potentially even to operators exploring the enterprise managed services opportunity.
The additional wireless services made possible by beacons are appealing, but they raise the question of who will manage those services -- the enterprise or wireless carrier, says Jarich. By positioning beacons as first and foremost a rollout tool, SpiderCloud sidesteps that question. Enterprises can deploy the SpiderCloud small cells first, and postpone additional beacon services -- and the question of who manages them -- to later.
"If you position it as first and foremost a rollout tool, you get around the issue of who is managing the beacon side of things," Jarich says. "It takes it off the agenda, but it's still there if they want to use it."
— Sarah Thomas, , Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading