Small cells and enterprise are hot topics that inspire many well-known industry analysts. One of them, Joe Madden with Mobile Experts with Mobile Experts, sees the implications: “The in-building wireless market is the next frontier. That’s where data traffic happens, and the variety of building types and enterprise types will create a very dynamic market.”
Beyond reliable indoor coverage and capacity, a small cell system that can offer scalability and a local presence inside of the enterprise also gives operators the capability to deliver hosted and managed services such as Wi-Fi, Unified Communications (UC), secure access to applications, device management and integration of cloud and telephony (PBX), as well as new context-aware and location-based services. Greg Collins, principal with Exact Ventures has quantified the opportunity for managed services. See his report on the $100B services opportunity for mobile operators, and 40 per cent savings for enterprise IT.
But, without the presence of a local control point, small cells have to connect back to the mobile operator’s core network-based gateways, slowing down handovers and increasing the rate of interference coordination inside buildings across both 3G and LTE small cells, and will limit managed services into the enterprise. That’s right, interference does not go away with LTE. In fact, cell-edge interference between two or more LTE indoor small cells is shown to be a significant factor. A local controller presence can control all small cell radios ensuring the same coordination/scheduling with 3G nodes and LTE radio nodes, resulting in a great voice and data user experience.
Ken Rehbehn with Yankee Group Research understands the opportunities that exist for mobile operators. “Enterprise small cell service offerings are important for mobile operators. A compelling offer coupled with a strong enterprise-centric portfolio helps boost an operator’s value proposition when pursuing the enterprise sector. Strong enterprise small cell portfolios must deliver mobile broadband performance, right-sized scale, robust trouble-free operation and excellent enterprise network management visibility.”
Mobility drives improved efficiency and productivity. Having the ability to work anywhere in a building is only as good as the reliability of the network. Poor indoor coverage and capacity is a growing headache. IT managers are now turning to their mobile operator to fix the problem. In fact, 61 per cent of IT decision makers from businesses with more than 250 employees say that their businesses have struggled with indoor coverage and capacity, and of these, 73 per cent of people had taken steps to address the issue by contacting their mobile operator.
3G and LTE/4G will live together for a long time. Simply bringing LTE indoors does not solve edge interference, neighbour list or management issues. Mobile operators and enterprise customers need both 3G and 4G small cells for access and services for years to come. Peter Jarich with Current Analysis summarises this requirement.
“Mobile operators need flexibility as they migrate their networks indoors and seek to enable in-building small cell services to medium and large enterprise customers. At the same time, supporting both 3G and LTE access is critical for investment protection, while leveraging Ethernet for transport and power helps to address deployment concerns.”
LTE North America in Dallas (Nov. 20-22) is the perfect place to discuss the enterprise opportunity beyond basic coverage and capacity.
SVP/CMO with SpiderCloud Wireless