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WiFi gets smart for cellular

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Under the strain of a mobile data onslaught, the move to small cells is opening the door to new and unexpected uses of smarter Wi-Fi.
Operatorsnare currently confronted with an insane demand for mobile data and as a result,nneed to start looking for possible solutions to add more capacity. This is thensentiment of Ruckus Wireless.

Accordingnto Michael Fletcher, Sales Director for Ruckus Wireless, Sub-Saharan Africa, tonsolve the problem at hand now there are three ways the industry can address itn- increase capacity of the affected network resource, offload the networknresource to relieve congestion, or do both. “The move to smaller cells tonaugment existing macro networks is widely viewed as a potential panacea to thenaccess radio network congestion, but it also creates a new one – backhaul.nToday, this has become one of the telecom industry’s biggest debates especiallynas mobile operators look to achieve the capacity required by the rapidly risingnmobile Internet bandwidth demand.”

GettingnSmaller
It isnfor this reason that mobile operators need to start thinking differently aboutnthe way they want to achieve this. Small cells are low-powered, multi-radionaccess points such as cellular/Wi-Fi/backhaul that improve indoor and outdoorncoverage to increase capacity and offload traffic. Even though small cellsnbenefit 3G service deployments today, their importance will only grow as the industrynmoves towards higher capacity like 4G or LTE, especially in urban environments.

AddsnFletcher; “This is because as network operators continue to increase coveragenand capacity and look to offload data to relieve traffic pressures, they alsonincrease the stress on their cell site backhaul connectivity,” adds Fletcher.n“Another viable option is using licensed spectrum as it is better suited forncarrying mobile data traffic, but when using licensed spectrum, there are somenlimitations, these spectrum bands are expensive and frequently not availablenfor licensing. In this case fiber is clearly the preferred backhaul option fornmobile operators but in some instances could be non-viable as it is toonexpensive, disruptive and time consuming. And therefore traditional cellularnbackhaul solutions must be rethought in the context of moving to smallerncells.”

Wanted:nNew Backhaul Options
Mobilenoperators need to find a sustainable backhaul technique, which meets all thenrequirements. The new backhaul option needs to be well suited for dense urbannenvironments as well as for close-to-the ground equipment, and lastly need tonmake small cells more viable.

Innlight of these, Ruckus Wireless suggest that unlicensed smart Wi-Fi be used asna viable and affordable option to solve the cellular traffic problem and herenis why this could be the answer to the pending problem:
·         Wi-Fi has evolved to become an idealnsolution for the small cell backhaul problem, that is, if done properly
·         New Wi-Fi technology has been developednespecially aimed at the congestion of the mobile networks; the new technologyncombines integrated adaptive directional antennas with smart meshing technologynand predictive channel management. The combination of these technologies makesnthe use of Wi-Fi accessible for all users.
·         Backhaul links can be automaticallynmoved to a better channel with less interference thereby identifying higherndata rates. This is definitely a more affordable solution and with greaternresiliency in crowded urban environments which are in dire need of morencapacity.
·         Wi-Fi backhaul technology is currentlynbeing built into small cell nodes housing cellular and Wi-Fi access – with anfairly small footprint. This allows operators to deploy a single box to providenWi-Fi access, cellular access and backhaul together.

“Ultimatelynwith small cells and better backhaul, mobile subscribers should enjoy highernspeeds with more coverage in more places. In turn, mobile operators can reducensubscriber churn and increase revenue by having visibility into both cellularnand Wi-Fi traffic – giving the customers more options to connect in morenplaces,” concludes Fletcher.

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