XCellAir emerges from stealth mode, launches ecosystem for LTE, Wi-Fi network optimization

Newly out of stealth mode, XCellAir is launching its own ecosystem, a network comprised of vendors of Wi-Fi access points and LTE small cell, as well as self-organizing network (SON) suppliers, to accelerate the adoption of its network optimization solutions.

With the support of the ecosystem, XCellAir says it wants to help wireless service providers "unlock the untapped potential" of heterogeneous networks (HetNets) consisting of Wi-Fi and/ or cellular small cells. The goal is to deliver big increases in network capacity, extended coverage and a lower cost-per-bit.

If that sounds familiar, that's because it lines up quite well with the software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) efforts that are underway in the industry. The move to SDN and NFV, part of which is designed to open up opportunities for startups, will help companies like XCellAir as it facilities a mix-and-match type of approach from different vendors.

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It's part of the overall industry shift, and it's playing out as XCellAir looks at a packed schedule with meetings at Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona next week, including with some large brand-name entities, according to Todd Mersch, EVP, sales and marketing at XCellAir, in an interview with FierceWirelessTech. The company's portfolio includes virtualization and orchestration capabilities for SDN and NFV, multi-standard radio resource management and SON, and analytics and capacity management.

With headquarters in San Diego, the company was founded by InterDigital and staffed with individuals with small cell experience. XCellAir's founders include the company's president, Amit Agarwal, who held GM positions at Radisys and SW & Solutions and served as COO at Continuous Computing. CTO and EVP of Engineering Narayan Menon most recently was vice president of R&D at InterDigital, and Mersch's specialty has been in small cell technology deployment, with previous positions at Radisys as well.

XCellAir's initial collaborators include GoNet Systems, which provides next-generation MIMO and beamforming-enabled high-performance Wi-Fi access points for both indoor and outdoor uses, and AirHop, which offers an eSON solution, which goes beyond traditional SON systems to include distributed real-time intercell coordination capabilities to optimize coverage and capacity.

XCellAir is targeting mobile network operators (MNOs), multiple system operators (MSOs) and Internet service providers. Cable companies with Wi-Fi and MNOs with either LTE or with LTE and Wi-Fi or both are key target customers. The solution can support a LTE-only, Wi-Fi-only or combination systems.

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"We definitely see our solution evolving nicely into the 5G landscape, primarily because one of the strong trends we see with 5G is even greater cell splitting," Menon told FierceWirelessTech. "We're talking about millimeter wave small cell technologies, even smaller cells being deployed, so I think the small cell train is going to continue moving into the 5G space, and the way we've architected our solution … it's inherently multi-technology, multi-vendor. It will evolve very nicely to support 5G small cells as well."

Its technology has implications for Licensed Assisted Access (LAA)-LTE, also called LTE-Unlicensed, as well. The concept behind LAA calls for LAA-LTE to share the 5 GHz band with Wi-Fi. A key challenge for LAA is devices will be to operate within the unlicensed band and still co-exist with other LTE devices and Wi-Fi devices.

XCellAir believes the SON techniques prevalent in LTE today will need to evolve to handle these other types of systems. "That's an approach we've taken from the outset with our solution," Menon said. "We believe we are well placed to move into that space and support the LTE-LAA."

For more:
- see this press release and this release

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