Ericsson adds C-band, mmWave, 5G CBRS radios for U.S. indoor coverage

Ericsson hopes to help deliver 5G coverage indoors, announcing millimeter wave and mid-band 5G indoor radios for the U.S. market. 

The Swedish vendor expects its millimeter wave small cell, the Ericsson Indoor AIR 1279, to be available in the third quarter. Small, medium and large venues are the target, with beamforming capabilities and minimized need for new cabling, meaning a smaller site footprint. Ericsson claimed the radio offers double the performance compared to any indoor mmWave products currently on the market.

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On the heels of the mmWave unit, Ericsson in the fourth quarter will have an indoor radio for 3.7 GHz C-band deployment and 5G support for spectrum in the shared Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band.

Carriers recently spent big bucks on C-band spectrum, with the first 100-megahertz available for use later this year. And indoor CBRS deployments in the 3.5 GHz band have been underway, including by some non-service provider users such as San Diego Gas & Electric relying on 4G LTE. Ericsson’s new Radio Dot 4459 adds support for 5G New Radio (NR) for CBRS.

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Jessey Huang, Head of Ericsson’s Indoor Product Line, in a statement called out the importance of indoor 5G quality matching that of the outdoor user experience.

“We know what a differentiator great indoor 5G experiences are to subscribers, enterprise and industry. Therefore, we want our customers to be able to deliver that – in the best way possible,” Huang stated. “Ericsson is fortifying our 5G indoor portfolio, making it the simplest and most flexible product range on the market. We deliver a high-performing and dependable solution that is cost efficient and easy to deploy.”

Indoor coverage is key as carriers roll out higher band spectrum for 5G and hope to tap new business opportunities. Verizon already said it would use indoor 5G mmWave small cells from Corning and Samsung, and the latter expects to have a C-band-supported indoor solutions by early 2022. Just last week Ericsson competitor Nokia debuted a plug-and-play indoor Smart Node, aimed at extending 4G and 5G outdoor coverage inside for residential and small business use. That will be available starting in Q4.

Industries like manufacturing, mining, ports and others are also looking to cellular indoors for low-latency, reliability and to support for massive numbers of IoT devices.

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Private cellular networks have sprung up as a new focus of interest, with attention from service providers, vendors and enterprise users. But bringing capabilities of carrier’s public macro networks indoors is also at play.

In a recent interview with FierceWireless, Ericsson’s Bob Gessel, head of technology strategy and market development for Enterprise and Emerging Business, said there’s a lot of innovation happening with the opportunity for a hybrid style deployment of public and private networks, on a large enterprise campus, for example.

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Enterprises value having top-notch indoor coverage, Gessel said. And there’s a lot of interest in bringing that capability indoors through the operators. There are also opportunities for set-ups involving neutral hosts and systems integrators.

For indoor mid-band deployments in Europe, Ericsson just launched a multi-operator, multi-vendor product called Indoor Connect. It enables several communications service providers to deliver sub-6 GHz 5G connectivity indoors, via one Ericsson Radio Dot System. It also supports 4G, as well as legacy 2G and 3G. The aim is to help speed up indoor deployments, and the vendor called out locations where multiple operators need to provide service like malls, stadiums and train stations.