Ericsson is launching a cellular radio that is small enough to fit a person's hand, but provides enough indoor network coverage for a crowd. The disk-shaped, break-through solution, called Ericsson Radio Dot System, addresses a broad range of scenarios for providing high-quality access to mobile broadband and voice services indoors.
An in-building environment presents a special set of challenges for mobile operators, concerning complexity, scalability and service continuity. Current indoor solutions are built mainly for voice coverage and do not meet the growing capacity demands of apps. Covering major parts of buildings has been challenging, for reasons such as high costs and limited scalability.
Ericsson Radio Dot System is compact and offers flexible mounting. The device weighs 300 grams, is the result of two years of research and development, and incorporates 14 patents. It introduces a revolutionary antenna element, or "dot," which delivers mobile broadband access to users.
Because of its convenient size, scalability, and compelling evolution path, this product caters to different kinds of users in medium to large indoor locations, and aims to address operators' needs of offering a complete indoor solution.
Dots are connected and powered via standard internet LAN cables (Category 5/6/7) to indoor radio units that link to a base station. Radio Dot System leverages the same industry-leading features found in Ericsson's macro base station.
Deployments and upgrades are simple, addressing growing capacity and coverage requirements. Thus the users' experience is consistent wherever they go and the indoor network evolves in lockstep with the outdoor network.
Ericsson Radio Dot System supports integration with Ericsson's carrier Wi-Fi portfolio enabling features such as real-time traffic steering to ensure the best user experience across both Wi-Fi and 3GPP networks.
Johan Wibergh, head of Ericsson Business Unit Networks, said: "With the Radio Dot System we lower the threshold to building indoor coverage. The dot is the most cost-effective, no-compromise solution to the indoor coverage challenges expressed by our customers. It is ultra-small but can scale to virtually unlimited capacity; it is easy to install, future proof and it is 100 percent integrated with existing mobile networks."
The product has already been gaining interest from mobile operators in the United States. Kris Rinne, senior vice president, network and product planning, AT&T Services, said: "Small cells are a key component of AT&T's Project VIP network enhancement program as we seek to constantly improve our customers' mobile Internet experience. Delivering a great wireless experience indoors can present both technical and logistical challenges. A solution like the Ericsson Radio Dot System gives AT&T another tool to choose from in its next-generation toolkit."
Ken Rehbehn, principal analyst, Yankee Group, said: "Sleek form factors that focus radio capability to solve the indoor deployment challenge in a fresh and compelling way will be welcomed into a wide variety of business and office venues. Ericsson Radio Dot System leverages existing indoor wire facilities to reduce installation hurdles and cost, and because it builds on Ericsson standard radio architecture, it provides an extensive feature set without compromising future evolution."
The product is expected to be commercially available in late 2014.