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Getting London wired

Ruckus Wireless has been selected by Telefónica UK, which operates the O2 brand, to supply high-capacity small cell products for high-speed wireless services being deployed throughout London.

Already deployed throughout the busiest, iconic areas in central London, such as Trafalgar Square, Parliament Square, Leicester Square, Regent Street and Oxford Street, Ruckus SmartCell 8800s have initially been deployed to provide free, fast and reliable Wi-Fi to anyone.

Within a single, low-profile design, the SmartCell 8800 is the first carrier-grade, modular multi-radio system to integrate patented adaptive antenna array technology supporting multiple licensed and unlicensed radio technologies including: high-speed dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, small cell 3G/4G radios and 5GHz wireless backhaul. This gives Telefónica UK the flexibility to easily and economically offer high-speed Wi-Fi and cellular services in specific locations when needed.

‚”For O2, it’s all about us providing customers with fast and reliable connectivity where they need it,‚” said Derek McManus, chief operating officer for Telef√≥nica UK. ‚”Our vision is for Wi-Fi to be simply another access layer to our mobile core. Customers don’t really care about the underlying technology: they care about getting connected, fast and reliably. The introduction of small cells helps us to support these requirements and completely complements our mobile strategy by letting us push capacity closer to users in locations where it makes the most sense.‚”

‚”In telecoms there is now a mad race to the lamppost, and the first one there wins,‚” said Selina Lo, president and CEO of Ruckus Wireless. ‚”A big barrier in small cell deployment is simply securing the physical locations with the requisite power and backhaul to support small cells. Once physical assets secured, it becomes important for operators to exploit them with as much technology as they can. This means multi-function, carrier-grade products that are simple deploy, unobtrusive and massively scalable. SmartCell is one of those products and O2 is one of those operators taking a lead in this race.‚”

After extensive evaluations of wireless suppliers, Telef√≥nica UK selected Ruckus and its SmartCell system. ‚”It all really boiled down to who had the best Wi-Fi for carriers and the most forward-thinking strategy to integrate Wi-Fi within existing and future cellular infrastructure,‚” said McManus.

‚”Such partnerships prove that industry players are starting to see the benefits Wi-Fi is bringing to their services,‚” adds Michael Fletcher sales director for Ruckus Wireless sub-Saharan Africa. ‚”We are likely to continue to see more industry players embracing this transformation globally, and hopefully locally as well as operators look for solutions to cater for their growing customer base.‚”

Beating the Backhaul Dilemma

‚”A major challenge with small cell deployments is how to reliably backhaul traffic from potentially thousands of small cell nodes without breaking the bank,‚” said Robert Joyce, chief radio engineer at Telef√≥nica UK.‚”

Telefónica UK effectively eliminates this problem by meshing traffic over highly reliable 5GHz Wi-Fi mesh links between nodes using Ruckus Smart Mesh technology. Smart Mesh uses advanced self-organising network (SON) principles with Ruckus-patented adaptive antenna arrays (BeamFlex) and predictive channel management techniques (ChannelFly). Combined these technologies create highly resilient, high-speed Wi-Fi mesh backbone links between nodes that automatically adapt to changes in environmental conditions.

Thought by many to not be possible, Smart Mesh has demonstrated to deliver reliable backhaul for licensed cellular and unlicensed Wi-Fi traffic in both line of sight and non-line of site environments.

‚”Ruckus Smart Mesh technology is proving to offer a cost-effective, reliable and flexible alternative to conventional approaches,‚” said Joyce. ‚”With Smart Mesh, we are running fiber to just one of every five nodes. This has proven to be a huge benefit in reducing capital and operational expense with the added bonus of reducing the time to market.‚”

Big Improvements with Small Cells

Small cells represent a new architectural approach for injecting much needed capacity into service provider networks. Small cells are miniature base stations that combine licensed and unlicensed radio technology with wireless backhaul to deliver lower powered wireless signals much closer to mobile users. This results in better signal coverage, improved voice quality and higher data performance.

Small cells enable operators to provide a premium quality mobile signal where it was never previously economic, such as indoor environments and remote outdoor locations. They also enable operators to meet the burgeoning demand for mobile data, by multiplying the data capacity of the macro network at a fraction of the cost.

With the Ruckus SmartCell system, mobile operators gain a capacity boost from LTE small cells, cutting costs and complexity by co-locating and combining them with Wi-Fi access points, sharing site-lease agreements and backhaul. The integration of Wi-Fi and LTE small cells within the cellular core also helps operators optimize network utilization across the radio access network, providing a further improvement in performance, and creating a seamless experience for subscribers.

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Phone with 60-day battery

Mi-Fone has announced an affordable smartphone that it says offers up to 60 days of battery life when in standby mode.

Many Africans want to access the Internet but cannot afford a smartphone. In addition, the greatest challenge experienced with smartphone users is that the battery runs out quickly.

In a bid to provide solutions to these challenges, Mi-Fone the first African mobile devices brand has launched the Mi3000 model. This is Africa’s first smart phone with a 60-day battery standby time and using EDGE connectivity.

The Mi 3000 handset boasts a candy bar design with a 2.8‚” touch screen and keypad. Just like all other Mi-Fone handsets, the Mi 3000 also comes with Mi-Apps with some free content that can be downloaded, and Opera Mini as default browser. Other features include a phone directory to store up to 1 000 contacts, 1GB of on-board memory and 256MB RAM.

Commenting on the new entrant in the market, Mi-Fone CEO Alpesh Patel said that the Mi 3000 has the upper hand of long battery life, which is one of the greatest challenges for most competing brands.

‚”A lot of consumers are using their device to access the Internet and resource hungry applications, which in tern quickly drains the battery. The Mi 3000 addresses these concerns in a cost effective manner.‚”

Mi-Fone has already differentiated itself from other low-cost handset manufacturers with its focus on music, local talent and its new ‚”Mi-Apps Java‚” store. This will be instrumental in linking the acquisition of local music in capturing revenue streams, which are often lost to piracy.

The Mi 3000 also comes packed with a list of additional features including a 2.75GHz processor, dual-SIM support, a 2MP camera and Bluetooth connectivity.

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Airtime for apps

Vodacom and Research In Motion have announced that Vodacom customers in South Africa can buy apps on the BlackBerry App World by charging the transaction to their contract or prepaid account.

The new billing service will enable Vodacom customers to buy apps with a seamless experience. Vodacom customers will also be offered the flexibility of charging in-app purchases to their regular bill or deducting the costs from their prepaid account, which allows digital goods to be purchased without interrupting the app experience.

‚”We have worked closely with RIM to make this functionality available for our BlackBerry smartphone customers. Once again, Vodacom is improving the customer experience by unlocking the power of its network and services,‚” said Prins Mhlanga, Managing Executive of Vodacom Digital Media.

‚”We’re delighted that Vodacom’s BlackBerry smartphone customers will be able to purchase apps on BlackBerry App World and conveniently charge them to their regular phone bill from Vodacom. By working closely with Vodacom, we are able to offer customers easier access to tens of thousands of apps ranging from productivity to entertainment,‚” said Bob Bose, Regional Managing Director at RIM.

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