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Are Small Cells and Wi-Fi Networks Complimentary or Competitive?

As an industry, we are starting to see a convergence of small cells and Wi-Fi to help solve coverage, capacity, and spectrum issues in our increasingly connected, mobile-dominated world. Today more than ever, mobile operators are increasingly realizing that Wi-Fi and small cells must be part of their traditional licensed network in order to realize the future of mobility.

This topic was especially evident during last month’s Small Cell Americas conference in Dallas, Texas. During the conference, I had the opportunity to discuss how small cells and Wi-Fi can work together, which proved especially timely as the Dallas conference also marked the launch by the Small Cell Forum of their Enterprise Release, comprising  of 25 documents to help overcome barriers to small cell deployment in the enterprise. Release Two: Enterprise is the result of over nine months of hard work by the Forum and its members!

As small cells and Wi-Fi bring corporate networks and mobile networks closer to each other, IT leaders and service providers are increasingly asking questions about how the convergence of small cells and Wi-Fi coexist, from a product, architecture and business model perspective. Some common questions include: Read More »

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The Heartbeat of the Small Cell Network

We were pleased to accept a Small Cell Industry Award last night for small cell design and technology innovation for the Cisco Management Heartbeat Server (CMHS). We were particularly pleased because the CMHS is an example of a solution our engineering team developed in response to some real world issues we were seeing in our customer’s small cell network – one of the largest small cell networks deployed today.

Above: Partho Mishra,VP/GM, Small Cell Technology Group, Cisco

When small cells are deployed in the hundreds of thousands, there’s a need to scale the monitoring of the access points so that operations are simplified while customers are kept happy.  The CMHS monitors connectivity and service status in real-time with ongoing heartbeats, and provides Read More »

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Closing the Small Cell Loop

Folks,

We are in the midst of exciting times. As the small cell industry gathers here in London for the annual Small Cells World Summit, I’m delighted to welcome the world-class team from Ubiquisys into Cisco.  At the same time, we’re announcing the formation of a new Small Cell Wireless Backhaul Ecosystem with the top vendors in the industry.

Let me start with an introduction, since this is my first SP 360 blog.  I’m the VP/GM of the new Cisco Small Cell Technology Group.  Cisco has been investing in both internal engineering development and external acquisitions in small cell technology for several years now, and this moment marks a milestone in our long-term strategic plan.

We have the industry leading carrier-grade SP Wi-Fi solution, and one of the largest residential femto deployments with over 1 million devices deployed by AT&T.  We’ve learned a great deal over the years about how to rapidly deploy licensed and unlicensed small cells with zero touch provisioning, keeping costs low and customer satisfaction high.

We’ve been partnering with Ubiquisys for quite some time because we see them as industry leaders and in fact one of the founders of the small cell industry.  Now that we have their expertise in-house, we’re able to rapidly roll out an expanding portfolio of licensed small cells to meet the widening array of deployment needs.  This also means that we are adding decentralized SON capability to our centralized SON proficiency gained through the recent Intucell acquisition.

In February we announced the ASR 901S, a small cell backhaul router that brings hardened network intelligence into some of the more challenging environments where small cells are being deployed.  Today we are announcing Read More »

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Bringing Licensed and Unlicensed Small Cells Together

The mobile market will be vastly different 10 years from today. We will see two and a half billion more people connected to the internet, but also 50 billion more devices. Those devices are going to have a totally different consumption profile compared with the smartphone or dongle user that we have today. We will have a mobile market with mobile internet which has got to have flexibility in terms of how it supports the massive number of devices, signaling events, and bandwidth that will occur in the future.

To manage this exponential growth in mobile data, effective small cell networks need to take advantage of both licensed and unlicensed spectrum. Small cells help operators increase coverage, capacity, and services, effectively and have already proven to be vital element in mobile networks.  To better integrate licensed and unlicensed small cells, we have identified 5 fundamentals that are important to remember: Read More »

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The Mobile Paradox

Today’s world is characterized by what I call the “mobile explosion”—an environment defined by mobile cloud becoming a platform for delivering everything. It is a world of heterogeneous networks, licensed macro small cell networks, and unlicensed small cell networks (Wi-Fi for example), all seamlessly combined. In this world, however, I believe we are facing a mobile paradox: on the one hand, there is a staggering demand for data from our smartphones, tablets, and other connected devices; on the other hand, the telecommunications industry is grappling with business and monetization challenges around profitability, how to build up these networks fast enough, and competition from over-the-top (OTT) operators.  But, operators are struggling with building the business case and understanding how to make Wi-Fi pay.

The much quoted Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) predicts that global mobile data traffic will increase 13-fold from 2012 to 2017, reaching 11.2 exabytes per month. In parallel, the use of unlicensed small cell networks (Wi-Fi) for Internet access is exploding as more mobile devices are Wi-Fi-enabled, the number of public hotspots expands, and user acceptance grows. Until recently, most technologists and mobile industry executives viewed Wi-Fi as the “poor cousin” to licensed mobile communications.  And they most certainly never saw any role for Wi-Fi in mobile networks or their business. The explosion of mobile data traffic has changed all of that. Most mobile operators now realize that offloading data traffic to Wi-Fi can, and must, play a significant role in helping them avoid clogged networks and unhappy customers.

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In the “Business Models and Monetization Video” in Big Thinkers in Small Cells, my colleagues and I discuss revenue opportunities and challenges mobile operators face today with small cells, both licensed and unlicensed. Mobile operators Read More »

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