Ericsson unveils small cell solutions

Ericsson has taken the wraps off three new small cell solutions, the Multi-Operator Dot, the Multi-Dot Enclosure, and the Strand-Mount Unit, which will be commercially available next year.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Ericsson has unveiled three new small cell solutions that it says will help prepare networks for the launch of 5G as well as Internet of Things (IoT) uptake by extending coverage and capacity using LTE/5G tight interworking.

The networking giant labelled its new small cell solutions, which will be commercially available in 2018, the Multi-Operator Dot and the Multi-Dot Enclosure for indoor deployments, and the Strand-Mount Unit for outdoor micro radios.

"The Multi-Operator Dot solution delivers a set of radio dots that can be shared between multiple operators, with one operator managing the system while others provide radio frequency signals," Ericsson explained, adding that this is similar to an active distributed antenna system (DAS).

"This new architecture allows up to four operators to broadcast over a single dot solution."

The Multi-Dot Enclosure, meanwhile, combines multiple radio dots within a single enclosure, which Ericsson said is suited to multi-operator deployments in single buildings.

Lastly, the Strand-Mount Unit simplifies the process of installing outdoor micro radios on the existing grid, hanging them on aerial coax, fibre, and electricity cables.

"Aerial-strand deployments are critical for scaling outdoor small cells, and can be deployed for both single and multi-operator usage," Ericsson said.

The new unit can support up to four micro radios, making deployments more cost efficient by allowing multiple operators to share a single mount.

"Multi-operator solutions will be critical to expanding the market for small cells and the range of possible deployments," Mobile Ecosystem MD Mark Lowenstein said.

Nokia is also focused on small cell technology, in June unveiling a new way of deploying small cells in a bid to support Australian telecommunications providers in building out additional mobile coverage within a shorter timeframe.

The practice, which took Nokia nine months to test, provides a predictable, low-cost, "highly repeatable" site solution for rolling out small cells -- or miniature base stations -- within 16 weeks from planning to completion.

This significantly reduces the 12- to 18-month timeframe previously experienced by telcos in rolling out macro cells.

"Nokia's Oceania small cells practice will help operators plan, design, and deploy modular solutions using Nokia's leading range of small cells technology," Nokia said.

"A key aspect to the solution is an archive of more than 30,000 small cell-appropriate assets with pre-agreed engineering designs in place with site owners and operators."

Globally, Nokia said it has more than 220 customers using its small cells solutions.

Small cells are being used by carriers across the world to increase the density of their metro networks, to provide data and voice coverage for regional areas where it is not economically viable to build full mobile base stations, and as a precursor to 5G.

Nokia acquired Australian compact radio frequency filter maker Mesaplexx back in 2014 for the purpose of making its radio equipment lighter and more efficient, and up to 30 percent smaller.

Nokia last year worked with Singaporean telecommunications provider M1 to commercially launch a nationwide "heterogeneous network" (HetNet) using small cells in an effort to improve download speeds towards 1Gbps ahead of 5G.

Ericsson similarly worked with Singtel on a live trial of License Assisted Access (LAA) 4G using indoor small cells in July last year, as well as collaborating on a "blueprint" for 5G deployment across Singapore and on a trial of narrowband IoT technology.

Australian telcos Optus and Telstra have also been deploying small cells as part of their obligations under the federal government's mobile blackspot program.

Under round one of the program, Telstra will deploy 135 small cells using its own funding, while Optus will be providing 49 small cells under round two.

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