Inland Cellular, a wireless carrier operating in the states of Idaho and Washington, has selected Parallel Wireless for upgrades to its network for expanded 4G LTE coverage and 5G upgradability.
Inland Cellular will use Parallel Wireless’ virtualized, software-defined remote radio head (RRH) operating in Band 71 (600 MHz). The software runs on common-off-the-shelf servers, and it enables migration from 4G to 5G through a software update.
“We provide infrastructure equipment from the cell site to the core,” said Eugina Jordan, VP of marketing at Parallel Wireless. “We apply virtualization principles not just to 4G or 5G, but we apply the principles of disaggregation of hardware and software to 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G.”
She said that while Rakuten has the luxury of building a greenfield mobile network in Japan using virtualization strategies, existing networks must cope with their technology silos and hardware-centric infrastructure. Parallel Wireless is not involved with Rakuten. Instead, it has developed virtualization technology for legacy networks.
Jordan explained that there are 8 RAN split options based on what functions get moved to the baseband unit. “RAN split is splitting the MAC digital processing from the PHY physical/RRH, which does radio processing,” she said. “The higher the split, the more digital processing functionality gets moved to the BBU, or we call it vRU. And the RRH itself is only left with radio processing. For Inland, we are using RAN split 7, just like Rakuten.”
She said Parallel’s software also expands into the core. “The functionalities that are included in our software are not based on gateway functionality, they’re based on services that customers need to run to route the traffic, secure it, prioritize it and optimize it,” said Jordan. “Our software provides all that because we virtualize all those functions that were traditionally boxes.”
Inland’s deployment with Parallel brings more processing power to the edge of the network, which is an architectural shift that is being adopted as part of 5G. Steve Libby, VP of sales for North America at Parallel, said Inland has a data center that will support remote cell sites. “Our architecture is basically software on a server that manages the remote RF endpoints,” he said. For Inland, “it’s multiple dozens of cell sites,” he said. “They’ve got existing sites for densification and they’ve also got new sites.”
Inland Cellular is using Parallel Wireless’ technology for densification and more urban coverage as well as more rural. “We’ve been selected for a major expansion,” said Libby.
Besides Inland Cellular, Parallel counts some other carriers as customers for its virtualization technology, including Telefonica in Peru, Zain in the Middle East and Vodafone in Turkey.