C-RAN Is About to Get More Serious, but No, the RAN Will Never Disappear into the Cloud

Ed Gubbins

Ed Gubbins

Summary Bullets:

  • C-RAN’s adoption is likely to grow significantly soon, thanks in part to evolutions in the underlying technologies.
  • Long term, future RANs will see a dynamic mix of centralized and distributed functions.

In 2016, we’re likely to hear even more about C-RAN than we already have. It’s not a new concept, and plenty of operators have deployed mobile access network architectures in which the baseband processing units are centralized, stacked or pooled, linked to remote radio units elsewhere. As portions of the network become increasingly virtualized, baseband processing will become virtualized, too – thus, centralized RAN will evolve into cloud RAN. This won’t happen everywhere, of course, but its use is likely to spread thanks in part to some significant advancements in C-RAN technology coming soon. Read more of this post

WiFi Continues to Shape the Enterprise Small-Cell Space

Ed Gubbins

Ed Gubbins

Summary Bullets:

  • Recent trends illustrate how influential WiFi remains in the enterprise small-cell space.
  • Small-cell vendors must align their view of technologies, partners and competitors with this dynamic.

As RAN vendors continue with an attempt to kick in the door to the enterprise small-cell market, one of the primary dynamics influencing these efforts is WiFi’s dominance in enterprise environs. This is largely what led Cisco to use its WiFi market footprint to compete in the small-cell space, of course. But, even in late 2015, after years of driving the enterprise small-cell value proposition, some players are shifting their thinking toward an even greater respect for the importance of WiFi in this business. For example: Read more of this post

Why Many of the Newest Small-cell Products Are Radio Units – And Why It Matters

Ed Gubbins

Ed Gubbins

Summary Bullets:

• Many of the newest small-cell products are radio units, coinciding with larger trends around C-RAN and 5G

• This trend poses challenges for the consolidating RAN-vendor landscape and could create opportunity for outsiders

Small cells, C-RAN and 5G are some of the most talked-about topics in mobile access infrastructure today, but how do they intersect? For starters, here’s one way:

Many of the most recently introduced small-cell products are actually radio units (RUs) that connect externally to baseband units (BBUs) rather than the all-in-one base stations (with BBU and RU in one box). Nokia, for example, announced its 2×5 W Metro RRH 2100 MHz in late 2014. Ericsson included the Micro Radio 2203 as part of the new Ericsson Radio System portfolio it unveiled in Q1 2015. ZTE introduced its R8402 “Pad RRU” around the same time. More recently, Huawei began promoting its 5 kg “Book RRU.” Read more of this post

SpiderCloud Claims Nokia as Partner; Nokia Disagrees. In This Public Spat, Neither Company Wins.

Ed Gubbins

Ed Gubbins

Summary Bullets:

• SpiderCloud’s CEO recently claimed Nokia as a reseller partner along with Cisco and NEC

• Nokia disputed this characterization, saying the arrangement was specific to a single operator engagement

If you ended up confused this week about whether or not SpiderCloud Wireless and Nokia Networks are partners, you’re not alone.

In an interview with news publication Light Reading, SpiderCloud Wireless CEO Mike Gallagher claimed a partnership with Nokia Networks wherein Nokia had been reselling SpiderCloud’s multi-mode 3G/4G enterprise small-cell solutions since February. Nokia responded by publicly denying any partnership between the two firms, adding that Nokia had supplied SpiderCloud’s solutions to a single specific customer and citing confidentiality agreements with the customer that prevent any further disclosure on the matter. A few tense online comments were exchanged. Read more of this post

The Challenge Facing Enterprise Small Cells: Changing Minds

Ed Gubbins

Ed Gubbins

Summary Bullets:

  • Overcoming enterprise small-cell obstacles requires changing existing paradigms and business models.
  • Some vendors and operators have already begun accepting new business models, but convincing enterprises, venue owners – even some operators – could be tough.

You have to sympathize with enterprise small-cell vendors. Who knows how many months they have dedicated to R&D, product management, standards work, testing, trialing, marketing – all promising operators the prospect of bringing coverage and capacity to a place where a huge portion of human communication begins and ends. And yet, when operators approach enterprises with these innovative solutions, in many cases they’re likely to be met with just four frustrating words: “We’ve already got WiFi.” Read more of this post

Small Cells & Location-Based Services (LBS) – Why Vendors Will Have to Push Harder

Ed Gubbins

Ed Gubbins

Summary Bullets:

  • Mobile access infrastructure vendors are increasingly pushing location-based services for indoor/enterprise networks.
  • It’s a logical concept but one that hasn’t shown much traction yet.
  • Such services face serious challenges, including finding killer apps despite a somewhat fractured market.

Enterprise small-cell deployments haven’t exactly spread like wild fire yet (the latest market information from the Small Cell Forum shows most shipments are still residential). Yet, vendors are talking more than ever about applying location-based services (LBS) and analytics to indoor enterprise networks including small cells and WiFi access points. Read more of this post

MWC 2015: Who’s Ready to Play MWC Buzzword Bingo?

Ed Gubbins

Ed Gubbins

Summary Bullets:

  • RAN vendors are sure to repeat key buzzwords at MWC, including C-RAN, license-assisted access and 5G.
  • Vendors need to strike the right balance between getting attention and demonstrating credibility.

With Mobile World Congress almost upon us, exhibitors are fine-tuning the messages they plan to emphasize at the show. Trust us, we’ve been having a lot of these conversations lately. For RAN vendors, it can be pretty challenging to craft messages that not only rise above the din of competing announcements, but also attract attention in general at a show where devices and applications often hog the spotlight. Read more of this post