OpenG technology promises to address long standing in-building mobile challenges
Mobile World Congress: Ruckus Wireless has announced a new technology designed to address the challenge of in-building cellular coverage and capacity.
OpenG technology combines coordinated shared spectrum, such as 3.5 GHz in the US, with neutral host-capable small cells to enable cost effective, ubiquitous in-building cellular coverage.
Juan Santiago, PLM director for small cells at Ruckus, told Smart Chimps: “We are changing the business model for in-building cellular. Customers get frustrated because they can’t get coverage in buildings, but the business case to enable that for mobile network operators isn’t there in many cases; what operators want and what enterprises want sometimes clashes.”
Santiago noted that while enterprises have largely adopted Wi-Fi for in-building wireless data connectivity, they also need to provide employees and visitors with ubiquitous mobile coverage for voice and data. The widespread outside-in approach to in-building cellular connectivity is increasingly challenged by new building materials that weaken wireless signals, undependable macro reach to high floors, and spotty connectivity due to street-level shadowing, and while distributed antenna systems (DAS) and traditional small cells can address some of these issues, their economics and deployment complexity limit their application, commented Santiago.
He said: “In the 3.5GHz LTE band in the US, we are using 15 channels of 10MHz each.” He noted this bandwidth is primarily for military use, but it is infrequently accessed so, “enterprises can check a database to see if it’s being used by the military or a mobile network operator, and if it isn’t being used at that time, they can use it [for in-building coverage]”.
He added that if the channel being used by a company is taken over by the military, the enterprise is automatically jumped to the next available channel, although Santiago noted that enterprises would have to be within 100 metres to 150 metres distance of military users of the bandwidth to interfere with usage. In the event that all 15 channels were taken, Santiago said the system would come down to a highest-bidder-wins scenario for business users.
He commented: “This changes the business case [for mobile operators]. All the operator needs to do is authenticate the user. The operator doesn’t need to spend any money to give coverage to these businesses, and we’re talking hundreds of thousands of buildings.”
The only issue, said Santiago, is the lack of mobile devices that currently support 4G on the 3.5Ghz band. However, Japan is deploying LTE on 3.5GHz and as devices come to market there, Ruckus will take advantage of the situation. “2017 will be when we expect [OpenG] to roll out, once the devices are there,” Santiago said. “We expect there to be cellular everywhere there is Wi-Fi today; just like when [businesses]put Wi-Fi in buildings, they’ll put cellular.”
The company plans to unveil specific products and offerings throughout 2016. As part of this announcement, Ruckus is demonstrating OpenG technology in collaboration with Qualcomm here at Mobile World Congress. Ruckus is also demonstrating its Wi-Fi calling solution during the show which, in combination with OpenG technology, showcases the future of the all-wireless enterprise.