SpiderCloud Wireless, the California-based provider of scalable small cell enterprise radio access network (E-RAN) systems, today (4 November 2013) unveiled a dual-mode integrated 3G/LTE broadband enterprise small cell – the SCRN-310.
It what is believed to be an industry-first innovation, the SCRN-310 can simultaneously offer 3G UMTS and LTE services. The small cell combines an integrated 3G/LTE baseband system-on-a-chip (SoC) from Broadcom with SpiderCloud’s patented phy/mac software on top.
This provides the SCRN-310 with the flexibility to be software-upgraded to operate in two spectrum bands of LTE when mobile operators are ready to start re-farming existing 3G spectrum for additional LTE services.
The SCRN-310 is part of SpiderCloud’s Enterprise RAN (E-RAN) solution. The E-RAN system consists of a Services Node (SCSN) that can control over 100 self-organizing and multi-access 3G, Wi-Fi and LTE/4G small cells that can be installed in just days using the existing enterprise Ethernet local area network (LAN).
“As mobile data usage migrates from 3G to LTE in the next five years, SCRN-310 provides mobile operators with the flexibility they need and protects their investment in small cells,” said Amit Jain, vice president of product management for SpiderCloud Wireless (pictured below). “Our partnership with Broadcom allows us to introduce the first flexible multi-access small cell to market.”
The new SCRN-310 supports 32 3G/HSPA+ channels, 32 active LTE users and 128 LTE connected users and supports voice over LTE (VoLTE). It can be software-upgraded to support two bands of LTE.
SpiderCloud will be launching two models of SCRN-310 in Q2 2014, the first operating in BC2 (1900MHz) and BC4 (AWS) and the second operating in BC1 (2100MHz) and BC7 (2600MHz). Support for additional band classes is planned for the second half of 2014.
“Mobile operators need flexibility as they migrate their networks indoors and seek to enable in-building small cell services to medium and large enterprise customers,” said Peter Jarich, vice president of Consumer and Infrastructure with Current Analysis. “At the same time, supporting both 3G and LTE access is critical for investment protection while leveraging the Ethernet-powering helps to address deployment concerns.”
SpiderCloud’s Amit Jain on the SCRN-310
Speaking to Wireless ahead of the launch, Jain said: ‘What is unique about the SCRN-310 is that we believe it is the first small cell that combines 3G and 4G LTE radios. The radio node can be upgraded to two LTE spectrum bands. Most operators have spectrum in different bands and what many are also thinking is that if demand for LTE services explodes they may have to refarm some 3G spectrum for LTE.
‘This could happen in the next few years with most mobile devices working in LTE default mode and using circuit switched fallback for voice. Right now they are going to deploy 3G and 4G small cells, but what happens down the line as LTE takes over and 3G spectrum gets refarmed?’
In Jain’s view, carriers do not want to have to go back into enterprises where they’ve deployed dense 3G small cell networks and replace all the radio nodes with 4G.
‘Replacing small cells is a not a trivial exercise,’ he explained. ‘Anticipating this, what we’ve done is build that flexibility into the SCRN-310 small cell, which has both 3G and 4G radios, but the 3G one can be converted to 4G as well through a software upgrade.’
That means the enterprise has no disturbance as there are not engineers everywhere ripping out existing small cells and replacing them.
Jain said that reaction from the industry and the operator community has been very positive so far. ‘We started planning it last year by talking to our lead operators. They told us that they want 3G small cells, but they don’t know how and when demand will shift over to 4G or what devices will come on the market that they’ll have to handle.’
Carriers have therefore been asking SpiderCloud that if they deploy a large 3G small cell deployment using its products, how do they get the flexibility to easily upgrade to 4G?
‘Now we are near commercial deployment we’ve taken the SCRN-310 to carriers and they are really excited that they won’t have to revisit a lot of large buildings and upgrade 3G small cells,’ said Jain. ‘With the SCRN-310, they can switch the 3G radio to 4G with a software upgrade when they are ready to do so. Some carriers have told us they want to use it already as a dual band LTE small cell.’
The SCRN-310 will be commercially available in the second quarter of 2014. Jain explained: ‘We’ve announced it now because you have to give the carrier community time to do their network planning and validation, so we need to inform the market six to eight months ahead of launch, but we’ll take it to trial before that.’
He noted that the main concern from the enterprise sector is ensuring they have access to all the services the carrier offers inside their LANs. At the moment they need 3G and 4G. ‘From their standpoint, if things change and the demand is for mostly 4G, then they want assurance that their carrier will be on top of the situation,’ said Jain.
‘They want the service to work. They are paying the carriers a lot of money and expect their smartphones and tablets to work wherever their employees are. Simplicity is the main expectation, so as smartphones evolve towards LTE new services will be offered by carriers and they will want access to those services they are paying for.’
Jain added: ‘Customers are using our 3G small cell products at the moment, but after a time and when the dual 3G/4G radio small cell is available from the carriers, we would expect that to probably take over. So, those customers that have already installed 3G node cells might want still want some 4G small cells added, but later they can get the dual radio small cells. But for any customer starting from scratch it makes sense to adopt the dual cell straightaway.’
How the SpiderCloud small cell system works
SpiderCloud’s small cell system consists of two elements. First, numerous small cells called radio nodes (SCRN) are deployed inside the enterprise. These are then connected to an on-premise small cell services element, the SpiderCloud Services Node (SCSN) - pictured below, which is the central configuration and services enabler.
The Services Node securely connects to the mobile operator’s core network, enabling the operator to deliver managed mobility services to its enterprise customers over the top of the coverage and capacity system. The Services Node is a ‘local’ control point for the small cell network deployed inside the enterprise.
Without the presence of a local control point on an enterprise customer’s Ethernet network, a mobile operator cannot effectively coordinate small cells or support inter-small cell signalling (such as soft handover signalling in the case of 3G).
Without the presence of a local control point, small cells have to connect back to the mobile operator’s core network-based gateways, slowing down handovers and increasing the rate of interference coordination inside buildings across both 3G and LTE small cells.
SpiderCloud Product Portfolio
SpiderCloud offers a portfolio of Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) small cells as part of the scalable E-RAN system with transmit power options of 100-to-250 mW:
- SCRN-200: 3G small cell supporting 32 3G/HSPA+ channels
- SCRN-300: 3G/Wi-Fi small cell supporting 32 3G/HSPA+ channels and dual-band Wi-Fi
- SCRN-210: LTE small cell supporting 32 active users and 128 RRC connected users
- SCRN-310: 3G & LTE small cell supporting 32 3G/HSPA+ channels, 32 active LTE users, and 128 RRC connected LTE users.
Key benefits of the SCRN-310
- Carriers get a simple manageable small cell system that can scale to over 100 radio nodes; one services node can support up to 10,000 devices.
- The 310 offers flexibility and ease of deployment/management of enterprise customers, as 3G subscribers migrate from 3G to 3G/4G and over time to 4G.
- The 310 gives customers band flexibility in one small package rather than needing both 3G and 4G small cells.
- One 310 will be more cost efficient than needing a 3G and a 4G node.
- For LTE-only customers, the SCRN-210 is a good option. For dual band LTE, the SCRN-310 gives the LTE-only operators flexibility. With SpiderCloud, there’s no change to the services node in the enterprise wiring closet.
- The integrated 3G/LTE on ONE system-on-a-chip (SoC) is a verifiable industry first using the Broadcom chip with SpiderCloud phy/mac software on top.
Already commercially proven through live mobile operator deployments of its 3G E-RAN products, SpiderCloud Wireless enables operators to build very dense small cell networks to address their own network coverage and capacity needs and offer enterprise customers reliable mobile, application and cloud services.
Most recently Vodafone Netherlands announced in September 2013 that it is using SpiderCloud’s scalable small cell system to deliver reliable mobile services indoors for enterprise customers of any size.
See: Vodafone Netherlands first to deploy small cell system from SpiderCloud Wireless