Ericsson has announced the arrival of its 3GPP compliant Wi-Fi network access, control and management solutions, which are designed to ensure users always get the best connection.
These enable mobile operators to easily incorporate Wi-Fi in their heterogeneous network strategy, while delivering a consistently high-performance user experience, even in high traffic areas. Incorporating Wi-Fi is a key focus of tier-one mobile operators.
A smooth and seamless integration of Wi-Fi access is an increasingly important part of any mobile broadband service. Most smartphone users have experienced the frustration of being automatically connected to a Wi-Fi network only to face a noticeably slower connection speed.
Key to the user experience is an Ericsson industry-first feature that automatically selects the best connection: real-time traffic steering. Ericsson's real-time traffic steering is a software upgrade that constantly assesses key performance indicators in both the mobile 3GPP network and the Wi-Fi network before dynamically and seamlessly shifting the consumer's smartphone connection between networks.
This ensures the best user experience and optimises network resources. Real-time traffic steering is a network-driven feature requiring no user intervention or additional device software. Ericsson also now supports access selection, a self-optimizing network (SON) feature enabling load-balancing between Wi-Fi and 3GPP networks to optimize the average user experience.
Thomas Noren, Vice President and Head of Product Area Radio, Ericsson, said: ‘Heterogeneous network strategies among leading mobile operators are focused on delivering a great mobile broadband experience to their customers, wherever they are. By coordinating licensed small cells with the macro cell, as we announced earlier this year, and intelligently integrating Wi-Fi and 3GPP throughout the network, we're providing operators with the most effective way to deliver consistently high performance consumer connections.’
New 802.11ac Wi-Fi access point
With indoor areas increasingly prone to mobile network congestion, Ericsson has also developed the first 802.11ac access point designed to enable mobile operators to deliver supplemental small cell or standalone Wi-Fi coverage indoors. The 802.11ac standard is common on tablets and increasingly prevalent on smartphones.
Two new cloud-controller options
Two new cloud-controller options, both featuring 3GPP-standard interfaces to the mobile core, make it easier and more cost-efficient for operators to add Wi-Fi to their existing mobile services. The Ericsson Evo Controller now features a Wi-Fi controller blade, the WIC 8030. A new standalone controller, the WIC 8100, supports up to 10,000 access points and 500,000 concurrent subscribers, allowing operators to consolidate multiple Wi-Fi networks from a centralized location in a cost-efficient way.
Integrated management of Wi-Fi and 3GPP networks
Ericsson is also introducing integrated management of Wi-Fi and 3GPP networks on a common platform, simplifying operations and reducing network costs.
These new Wi-Fi 3GPP integration products and features provide complementary and incremental benefits to emerging industry standard features that Ericsson supports, including: Access Network Discovery and Selection Function (ANDSF), IP session mobility (also referred to as IP address preservation) and Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint(TM) (based on the Wi-Fi Alliance Hotspot 2.0 Specification).
Ericsson also offers Wi-Fi 3GPP integration solutions to optimize the user experience for operators targeting residential Wi-Fi coverage. At MWC 2013, Ericsson announced a new Wi-Fi Gateway application on the Smart Services Router (SSR) which also supports integration of Wi-Fi networks with mobile broadband infrastructure.
Daryl Schoolar, Principal Analyst, Network Infrastructure at Ovum, said: ‘Ericsson has clearly differentiated its carrier Wi-Fi solution through tighter integration with mobile operator's 3GPP access, control and network management. This approach should yield a better end-user experience by preventing some of Wi-Fi's well-known bad habits from being imposed upon users.
‘At the same time, operators should welcome the tight integration of Wi-Fi and mobile, as exemplified by Ericsson's solution, thanks to the benefits derived from improving network resource optimization and ease in implementing and delivering Wi-Fi service offerings.’