Small cells

Verizon Takes Radio Dot to Detroit, VoLTE Overseas

Verizon is making important technology moves both at home and overseas. The carrier will be the first to deploy Ericsson's Radio Dot small cell system in the US and has successfully demonstrated international voice-over-LTE calling with two international telcos.

The carrier announced on Friday that it has installed Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC)'s Radio Dot small cell architecture at its regional headquarters building in metro Detroit. Verizon Wireless says it will use the small cells to support its HD voice service and video calling over LTE. Ericsson is managing the system on Verizon's behalf and has been testing it in the company's Walnut Creek, Calif. lab for the last year.

In a separate announcement, Verizon said it has completed the first transoceanic HD VoLTE roaming call with NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM). DoCoMo and KT Corp. have also completed what they're calling the world's first HD voice and video call via VoLTE roaming. DoCoMo says it is planning to commercialize international VoLTE roaming services by the end of the year, which will also benefit KT and Verizon through their LTE roaming agreements. (See NTT DoCoMo to Launch VoLTE Service.)

For more on small cells, head over to the small cell content channel on Light Reading.

Why this matters
Both of these announcements are proof points of two important technologies for Verizon. While the Ericsson deal is small in scope, Verizon's Detroit headquarters will serve as a testing ground for the Radio Dot system before the vendor takes it elsewhere. Launching with Verizon is also important for Ericsson, which has only gone live with Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) so far. (See Verizon Welcomes Ericsson's Radio Dot and Eurobites: Ericsson's Radio Dot Goes Live.)

Verizon's successful VoLTE trial with NTT and KT is important because it's a step towards letting Verizon customers make 4G voice calls to users outside of the Verizon footprint. Forging roaming agreements with other operators -- both at home and abroad -- will be crucial to making VoLTE a worthwhile service, and one that Verizon can eventually offer without 3G fallback. (See Verizon Begins 3G Refarming to Add LTE Capacity and Verizon, AT&T Plan VoLTE Harmony in 2015.)

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— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

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sarahthomas1011 3/2/2015 | 12:06:09 PM
Re: larger rollout Thank you! He was an interesting guy to interview (hence including the full Q&A as well!).
milan03 3/2/2015 | 12:02:07 PM
Re: larger rollout Yeah just read it, made me smile as he basically validated my posts. An excellent write up btw!!!
sarahthomas1011 3/2/2015 | 11:45:22 AM
Re: larger rollout Yep, you nailed it, Milan. I spoke with Grant Castle, T-Mobile's VP of network planning and QA on the topic. More here: http://www.lightreading.com/mobile/small-cells/t-mobile-plans-small-cells-as-niche-play/d/d-id/714089
kq4ym 3/2/2015 | 11:00:48 AM
Re: larger rollout It will be interesting to see how the rollout for interior space may contrast with tests later outside. But, at least there's not much risk going for Verizon at first in a test at headquarters. But, it should be relatively quick before more installations can be make in more locations.
thebulk 3/1/2015 | 11:13:31 PM
Re: larger rollout Several years ago I worked on a mobile network build in Rhode Island for a MSO trying to break into the mobile space. Small cell deployment utility poles was part of their play, but the project was scrapped before it ever went live and the equipment was just sitting there, never activated. 
milan03 3/1/2015 | 11:06:40 PM
Re: larger rollout They certainly won't stop their Small Cell deployment at Verizon's Michigan Headquarters. This is literally just a start.

The idea is to target high traffic enterprise environment with Radio Dot, and malls, arenas, convention centers with RBS6402 to leverage LAA. This particular solution is for indoor use, but they're already talking about a slightly different outdoor (utility poles) small cell deployment in dense targeted urban areas.
thebulk 3/1/2015 | 9:52:07 PM
Re: larger rollout @milan03, thanks for clearning that up. But couldnt they roll it out on a larger scale? or make it avalible to more enterprise customers? 
milan03 2/28/2015 | 11:47:26 PM
Re: larger rollout Ericsson's Radio Dot is an indoor enterprise solution, so it's not something you can roll out nationwide. It's meant to be carefully deployed in targeted areas, and under the macro umbrella.

Ericsson's RBS6402 Pico Cell being another interesting indoor option with 5GHz LAA support.

Worth mentioning that T-Mobile operates the highest amount of macro sites in the U.S. (~65,000), plus about 12,000 MetroPCS DAS nodes that are being integrated into the network. So they don't really need to go crazy on Radio Dot, RBS6402, or Flexi Zone.

Verizon on the other hand has been living in the low-band grid world for way too long, operating geographically the largest LTE network but with only about 49,000 macro sites. They need either macro denisfication or a massive Small Cell or DAS deployment to support the exponential growth in mobile data consuption, ASAP. Currently Verizon (and AT&T) is having all kinds of coverage gaps on AWS/PCS LTE layer.
thebulk 2/27/2015 | 12:59:11 PM
Re: larger rollout So you don't think that if VZW rolled this out nationa wide other carriers would worry about it, maybe feel a little "heat"? 

I know the mobile space has been somewhat of an arms race the past few years, do you think there is anything big around the cornor for them? 
sarahthomas1011 2/27/2015 | 12:38:17 PM
Re: larger rollout I don't know if it'd turn the heat up, since most already have small cell strategies in the works -- T-Mobile is probably the most embroyonic, but it isn't as keen on them. 

It seemed to me like a good way to get Ericsson PR for launching in the US, even though no one but Verizon's own employees would get to use it. It really amounts to another beta test, but it's still good that it's moving forward -- with all its suppliers -- on small cells.
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