Ericsson CEO says Wi-Fi will be standard small cell feature

Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) expects to enable Wi-Fi, with few exceptions, in all of its small cell equipment, which certain mobile operators are expected to start deploying in the fourth quarter.

Hans Vestberg, Ericsson

Vestberg (Image source: Ericsson)

Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg told GigaOM that although not all carriers will take advantage of the Wi-Fi capability in their small cells, the infrastructure vendor intends to take this opportunity to seed the market with Wi-Fi nodes. He didn't name the carriers that would roll out the technology.

Carriers will be able to upgrade their small cells to offer Wi-Fi via two primary methods, depending upon equipment configuration. Boards could be slotted into a small cell chassis or, in some cases, a software patch delivered over the cellular network might be all that is needed to enable Wi-Fi communications.

Ericsson jumped onto the Wi-Fi bandwagon more than one year ago, when it acquired BelAir Networks. BelAir's technology has now been fully integrated into Ericsson's small cell equipment, enabling operators to roll out small cell and Wi-Fi functionality, with Wi-Fi being integrated directly into the cellular network, Vestberg said.

In true HetNet fashion, Ericsson's approach will treat macrocells, small cells as well as Wi-Fi nodes as part of a single network. The company's technology will handle "handover from macro to micro, micro to Wi-Fi and back to micro or macro all over again," Vestberg said.

Operators that are considered likely to deploy Ericsson small cells starting this year include AT&T (NYSE:T) and Sprint (NYSE:S), which are both Ericsson customers and have committed to intensive small cell deployments.

For more:
- see this GigaOM article

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