MWC 2014 Preview: NSN unveils new Flexi Zone indoors and outdoor small cells

Expanded range of small cells, including new indoor pico base station, comes with TD-LTE and extra frequency bands, as well as Wi-Fi

MWC 2014 Preview: NSN unveils new Flexi Zone indoors and outdoor small cells

Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN) is creating new ways to deploy and integrate LTE and Wi-Fi to boost Heterogeneous Network (HetNet) capacity and coverage, indoors and outdoors.

A comprehensive expansion of the Flexi Zone small cells range adds TD-LTE and extra frequency bands, as well as incorporating Wi-Fi. A new indoor Flexi Zone pico base station, the industry’s smallest, is the only indoor small cell with the same capacity and running the same software as a macro base station.

Pico base stations for indoor coverage provide easier connection options and higher capacity than a distributed antenna system (DAS) can offer

“Although operator interest in small cells is clearly growing, deployments have been limited as operators still have lots of concerns with current small cell offerings. Vendor enhancements, such as those NSN has recently announced, are bringing those portfolios in better alignment with real-world operator requirements,” said Daryl Schoolar, principal analyst, network infrastructure, Ovum.

“NSN’s focus on software parity between small and macro cells, for example, will make it easier for operators to tightly couple the two network layers and address such concerns as spectrum interference, radio interoperability, and simplification of operations and maintenance.”

NSN claims its new Flexi Zone base stations are the industry’s smallest indoor and outdoor micro/pico cells and provide the same capacity and features as macro-cellular base stations, offering 30% lower overall costs than conventional units. They also benefit from NSN’s recently announced dynamic, load-balancing eICIC that provides 30% capacity improvement.         

Key features

Flexi Zone LTE micro/pico base stations now support all the most commonly used frequency bands for FDD LTE and TD-LTE and can be deployed in outdoor and harsh indoor environments such as railway stations or factories.

A new multi-radio outdoor and indoor Flexi Zone picocell base station integrates LTE and Wi-Fi in one unit. Combined with NSN Smart Wi-Fi real-time traffic steering, operators can now take advantage of unlicensed spectrum to further increase site capacity and improve the customer experience at busy locations.

A new indoor Flexi Zone picocell base station for small and medium-sized buildings has optional Wi-Fi and can provide significant performance gain over femto, DAS and hybrid DAS. Adding Flexi Zone controller functionality turns the picocell into a Flexi Zone access point for almost unlimited capacity to serve large, very large and dense indoor locations.

In addition, the base station can use a building’s existing shared Ethernet cabling for backhaul, eliminating the cost of new wiring typically needed for DAS and hybrid DAS systems.

“These developments will catalyze the wide adoption of small cells to help operators build capacity and coverage by complementing the macro-cellular network with access points that integrate LTE and Wi-Fi,” said Randy Cox, head of Small Cells product management at NSN.

“Adding Flexi Zone controller can create almost unlimited capacity and up to very large indoor coverage by deploying clusters of access points, which also deliver overall cost savings of up to 50% compared to conventional small cell deployments.”

Visit NSN’s Experience Center in Hall 3, 3B10 at Mobile World Congress, Fira Gran Via, in Barcelona, Spain.


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