SpiderCloud Wireless has taken the wraps off its latest enterprise small cell, which could go a long way toward convincing big businesses and carriers to deploy mobile broadband networks indoors. Its latest cell can support both LTE and HSPA voice and 3G data simultaneously.
You can think of small cells as miniature base stations and radios, which is basically what they are. Instead of being mounted on towers or rooftops, however, these tiny cells are stuck in buildings, filling corridors, cafeterias and conference rooms with mobile signals that normally have trouble penetrating exterior walls.
While SpiderCloud has sold of HSPA and LTE small cells separately for a while, the lack of an integrated 3G/4G small cell meant that mobile carriers had to deploy two indoor networks instead of one if they wanted to provide both technologies to their enterprise customers. The new integrated cell will not only be easier to deploy, but take up a smaller footprint and cost less than wrangling with two networks, SpiderCloud CMO Ronny Heraldsvik said.
The cell won’t be commercial available to carriers until the second quarter, but we’re probably not going to be seeing any large-scale deployments of 4G small cells until that timeframe. While LTE has a significant head start in the U.S. and east Asia, the rest of the world is just bringing its LTE networks online. Carriers are focusing on getting their big outdoor macro networks online before they start looking toward the crevices indoors. We should start seeing the first large-scale small cell launches from AT&T and Sprint next year.
Consequently, the big mobile infrastructure makers have begun talking up their small cell technology. In September, Ericsson unveiled a cleverly designed distributed small cell architecture called the Radio Dot, and last month Nokia announced its line of micro-and pico-cells intended for both indoor and outdoor networks.
But Silicon Valley-backed SpiderCloud has established an early foothold in the indoor small market. It’s signed distribution deals with major wireless vendors like NEC and is selling directly to carriers like Vodafone. SpiderCloud’s focus on in-building coverage and capacity turned out to be prescient.
As AT&T associate VP of small cells Gordon Mansfield has pointed out, small cells are going first where the data demand is highest. And that demand is invariably highest indoors.
Density image courtesy of Shutterstock user higyou