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NSN, Ericsson Butt Small CellsNSN, Ericsson Butt Small Cells

And Spidercloud butts in too.

Sarah Thomas

October 17, 2013

2 Min Read
NSN, Ericsson Butt Small Cells

Ericsson and NSN both made recent small cell announcements, hoping to attract the interest of operators working out their strategies, but also to remind each other, "Whatever you can do, I can do better."

Nokia Networks announced its new 4G LTE small cell on Tuesday, claiming be the smallest fully functional small cell that mimics a macrocell. But Current Analysis analyst Ed Gubbins points out that it, the Flexi Zone LTE microcell, and picocell base stations are the same ones it announced in February at Mobile World Congress. NSN isn't unveiling a new product, but rather touting feature and capacity parity with the macrocell thanks to a system-on-a-chip, Gubbins says. (See NSN Unveils New 4G Small Cell.)

Wonder why it's reintroducing the market to the small cell now? Earlier this month chief rival Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) introduced its new small cell architecture, which some also argued was a repackaging of its existing distributed antenna systems (DAS) radio head. Ericsson is focusing indoors, while NSN is looking outdoors, but both are competing on their claims of macro feature parity. (See Ericsson Boasts Small Cell Breakthrough and Ericsson's Radio Dot Receives Mixed Reception.)

"Ericsson took a very different approach to achieving macrocell feature parity in the small cell; they’re using a macrocell baseband unit," Gubbins notes. "NSN, in contrast, is promising feature parity in a standalone small cell. NSN can say Ericsson is validating the importance of feature parity, but couldn’t get it done in a standalone small cell, whereas NSN can."

Of course, they aren't the only two companies embroiled in small cell smack talk. Scrappy smaller vendor SpiderCloud Wireless has been poking (what it says are) holes in their plans every step of the way. (See SpiderCloud: Cisco 'Naïve' on Small Cells.)

It's still early days for the small cell market. In fact, NSN didn't even commit to being in trials yet, although Ericsson has AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless already singing its praises. As the vendors flesh out their strategies more, operators will get more confidence in deploying thousands of the tiny base stations -- most importantly, gaining confidence that it'll be worth the investment. A little posturing in the industry is good right now, but action will soon be better.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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