ip.access CTO says small cells are coming of age

ip.access founder and CTO Nick Johnson said the pace of small cell deployments is picking up as mobile operators begin to understand the benefits of the technology and businesses demand coverage improvements.

Johnson told FierceWireless:Europe that the UK-based provider of small cell solutions is seeing a lot of pent-up demand for business-oriented products from European companies, and that operators are starting to realise that services such as Wi-Fi calling are perhaps not the best option in terms of boosting usage of their macro networks.

"They realise that the capacity of the networks and the ability to reach the edges of the networks [is] very hard to do with traditional macro technology," Johnson said in an interview during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

While some operators have "dallied with Wi-Fi calling" services, the majority are starting to realise that such services are "promoting a technology which completely short circuits the value of their prime asset, which is spectrum." Small cells are increasingly viewed by operators as a means of fully leveraging that asset, Johnson explained.

Ease of deployment is also boosting the small cell market, Johnson added. "There's a bunch of technology breakthroughs and features that mean that small cells are becoming as easy to deploy as Wi-Fi in the sense that they self-configure, they organise themselves in respect to their neighbours, in respect to the macro in a way that's much more reliable than it may have been a few years ago."

Device compatibility is another key benefit offered by small cells, because existing handsets regard the cells as just another part of the mobile network.

ip.access used MWC to launch a new 4G Access Control Gateway, a fully virtualised product that the company said offers mobile operators a single interface between their existing core network and all LTE small cells. The product incorporates a secure gateway, network orchestration system, and an LTE home eNodeB gateway.

For more:
- see this ip.access announcement

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