Qualcomm Technologies and SpiderCloud Wireless are developing 4G small cells for use in unlicensed spectrum. The two companies are looking at most of the current 4G unlicensed options including LTE-U, LTE-LAA, and MulteFire systems for enterprises and public venues.
The development combines Qualcomm Technologies’ small cell baseband chipsets and leadership in LTE-U, LAA and MulteFire technologies with SpiderCloud’s established scalable small cell systems.
These SpiderCloud systems will be among the first to seamlessly deliver LTE capacity over unlicensed spectrum in large indoor environments, such as offices, university campuses, hospitals, hotels, shopping centres and sport venues. SpiderCloud featured an LTE-U prototype small cell at Mobile World Congress (pictured).
Speaking to Wireless at Mobile World Congress, Art King, Director of Enterprise at SpiderCloud, said: ‘We are starting with LTE-U and will be trialling that version with Verizon in the US. But it will be upgradable to LTE-LAA when that standard is ready. We think there is a need for an extra burst on the downlink of unlicensed spectrum for use in very dense radio environments.’
LTE-U is controversial as it does not practice a ‘listen before talk’ when LTE operates in a Wi-Fi band. However, King said that mobile operators will not want to mess with Wi-Fi users, and will take steps to ensure there is no interference.
‘This is where our background in self-organising networks is very helpful, as our system recognises what radios are in use and in what standard. Our radios will listen to everything and make an intelligent decision about which channels are free and use one of those, so that way you get fair usage of shared spectrum – and Qualcomm will do the same from the chip side,’ explained King.
The small cells will be based on SpiderCloud’s Enterprise RAN (E-RAN) architecture that includes a services node controlling up to 100 self-organising LTE small cells, capable of delivering coverage and capacity in indoor locations as large as 1.5 million square feet. Verizon will trial SpiderCloud’s LTE-U system in the third quarter of 2016.
SpiderCloud’s systems are enabled with Qualcomm Technologies’ latest LTE technology including aggregation of licensed and unlicensed spectrum on Qualcomm Technologies’ highly integrated FSM SoC platforms, which include the FSM9900.
The FSM9900 is a 28nm small cell SoC that supports multimode operation (LTE, UMTS) and LTE-Advanced features, such as LTE carrier aggregation. It also supports features such as digital pre-distortion and others designed to reduce power consumption, helping enable full-featured small cells for indoor deployments. SpiderCloud expects to utilise the FSM9900 across other products on its portfolio.
The collaboration will enable a robust long-term roadmap for dense and scalable small cell deployments, including LAA, MulteFire and neutral host LTE solutions. To support its development and commercialisation of MulteFire, SpiderCloud has joined the MulteFire Alliance.
“SpiderCloud shares Qualcomm Technologies’ vision that small cells will be crucial in addressing the 1000x mobile data challenge,” said Mike Gallagher, chief executive officer, SpiderCloud. “Our relationship with Qualcomm Technologies allows us to offer mobile operators with easy-to-deploy and easy-to-integrate LTE small cells solutions.”
“Operators worldwide are increasingly demanding LTE infrastructure solutions that make best use of both licensed and unlicensed spectrum bands,” said Neville Meijers, vice president, business development, Qualcomm Technologies. “We are pleased to join forces with SpiderCloud in developing a roadmap of small cells expected to meet and exceed operator needs.”
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