The LTE MENA conference finished earlier this week, and as we were following Twitter, we noticed back in the LTE World Series office HQ, we noticed a several mentions of the Ericsson ‘Dot’.
— Clare (@ClareAshamallah) May 12, 2014
So just in case you were wondering what the Dot was, here’s a quick reminder.
Ericsson first revealed the Dot last September last year and its CTO Ulf Ewaldsson held one aloft at the Broadband World Forum last September.
Essentially the Dot is a small cell (or is it? We’ll see) and it supports LTE,UMTS/HSPA+ and multiple frequencies.
Firstly, why is this one attracting more attention than others? It certainly can’t hurt that it’s small, white and circular—like a hockey puck. It looks like something produced by Apple, or perhaps the Nest thermostat. It weighs just 300g and having something that looks cool and can be held aloft can’t hurt market it – it’s not often that telecoms equipment can be held up and admired.
But it is a small cell – just a better looking and more compact one than others and as with all of them it’s designed to solve the indoor coverage problem, which presents particular challenges for operators. Ericsson claims the antenna design, which leverages 14 patents, is unique.
With an active antenna, in some circles it’s been dismissed as a repackaged DAS. The biggest difference that we can see is that a DAS remains host neutral, while the Dot would be limited to a single operator.
Despite being a small box, it still requires a large box of cabling that links back to rather uglier components – the baseband Digital Unit (DU) using Ethernet, and a rather Indoor Radio Unit, IRU, which connects to the core macro network via fibre. So while aesthetics might be high installation isn’t trivial. The system is quite scalable – and up to eight Dots per IRU providing coverage and capacity to a 48,000m2.
What’s interesting is that with a large scale deployment, which will be needed to make deployment economical, and using SON, this Dot is just the sort of element that will create the heterogeneous networks that the industry has been going on about for a while.
With operators such as Vodafone taking the lead on trailing the Dot, 2014 could be an interesting year for the evolution on networks.