Infrastructure firm Nokia Siemens Networks has signed a global reseller agreement with wifi specialist Ruckus Wireless to help operators integrate wifi coverage as part of its small cells portfolio designed for mobile broadband services.
The deal will see NSN offering operators the complete line of Ruckus Wireless carrier-class wifi systems, including indoor and outdoor access points and controllers.
“With the explosion of mobile data, operators need more economical and practical ways to handle huge volumes of traffic while maintaining a high quality customer experience,” said Hossein Moiin, chief technology and strategy officer at NSN. “With this agreement, we will be able to provide operators with wifi access and wifi offload solutions right now for integration into their cellular networks.”
NSN expects wifi to become an integral part of the mobile broadband experience and said that its strategy is to support that future through the development of heterogeneous networks (HetNets) in which multiple radio access technologies and wifi will all co-exist, and macro cells will be complemented by a multitude of smaller cells, such as micro, pico and femto cells.
The announcement coincides with a Small Cell Forum report which outlines public access small cell deployment best practices and challenges. The industry and operator association has published a whitepaper outlining the opportunities and challenges facing public access 3G small cell deployments.
The research found that public access small cells could play a key role in providing additional mobile coverage, capacity and new services in both urban and rural areas. It revealed that small cells could offload the majority of subscribers in many areas and reduce network load while improving the user experience. It found that with a ratio of one public access small cell per macrocell, 21 per cent of users would be offloaded; this rises to 56 per cent with four small cells and 75 per cent with 10 small cells.
However, a major operator deployment consideration is whether to roll out open access small cells that would allow all subscribers equal access or hybrid that prioritises some users. By choosing hybrid access operators will be able to provide a “gold-class” service to certain subscribers or to organisations, such as police or first responders, who may help to cover the cost of deployment by providing small cell sites and potentially backhaul as well.
Other potential challenges include downlink and uplink interference as well as potential impacts from mobile connections in fast-moving vehicles quickly passing through small cells. The association’s research concludes that although these challenges are very real, they can be mitigated using measures such as inter-frequency and intra-frequency handover, active hand-in as well as by re-calibrating transmit power and scheduling, all fully described in the report.
“The next major stage in small cell deployments is going to be in public spaces. The entire operator community now appreciates that small cells are the key to long term mobile network capacity increases, as well as providing a means of economically delivering coverage in rural blackspots. Their impact will be especially dramatic in dense urban hotspots where small cells could quickly be carrying more users and data capacity than the local macro network,” said Simon Saunders, chairman of the Small Cell Forum.