Verizon, Samsung tout LTE Network Extender indoor femtocell for enterprise

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) Enterprise Solutions and the networks division of Samsung Electronics America announced the availability of the 4G LTE Network Extender for Enterprise designed to enhance wireless coverage indoors.

The extender uses Samsung's small cell technology to deliver a 4G LTE solution for organizations in weak coverage areas. The product itself is designed to enhance indoor coverage typically in 10,000- to 100,000-square-foot environments where they have a weak signal today, said Justin Blair, director of technology at Verizon. A single unit supports about 42 concurrent users and about 31,500 square feet.

Verizon already has commercially deployed it with some customers. "It really solves a need for businesses that just haven't been able to get the coverage they need in certain places," Blair told FierceWirelessTech. Prior products that relied on legacy technology didn't have enough capacity or enough reach, and other solutions, like distributed antenna systems (DAS) that were available are more costly, he said. "This fits nicely in the middle," and is simple to deploy. "Our customers are already seeing the benefit."

"It's nowhere near as complex as your standard distributed antenna system," added Magnus Ojert, VP and general manager of networking at Samsung. The install is designed to be done in a couple hours; the extender itself requires an Ethernet jack to connect to the Internet, a power supply and a view to the GPS system through a window -- so it's not meant to be installed in a basement, for example.

"It's cost effective," Ojert said, and one, two or three of these network extenders can be combined to cover a larger space. The product costs $2,999 – considerably less than DAS.

Samsung has had about a 7-year relationship with Verizon in small cells starting with 3G. "We're looking forward to doing more additional products for Verizon," Ojert said, noting that this new network extender is exclusive to Verizon.

Verizon has two legacy products today, one that's residential and another that was considered business class, but it didn't support the coverage that this one supports. Retail stores, hospitals and hotels are showing a lot of interest in it, Blair said. It could also be a solution to replace small Wi-Fi access points.

Samsung announced last fall that it was working with Verizon to conduct a trial before the end of 2016 using Samsung's LTE-U enterprise femtocells. Ojert said that with the trial in Dallas, "everything looked good," noting the FCC's interest in making sure the techologies play fair. "We're working closely, jointly with Verizon to make sure it doesn't harm any existing Wi-Fi access providers," he said, with the aim of coming up with a happy medium to make sure that LTE-U can work cohesively with existing Wi-Fi networks.

For more:
- see this release

Related articles:
Verizon, Sprint, others turn to carrier aggregation, small cells for remainder of 2015 capex
Verizon, Samsung to test enterprise LTE-U femtocells
SK Telecom unveils integrated Wi-Fi/LTE femtocell