Saturday, 2 September 2017

Ericsson Radio Dot: Evolution and Technical information


Its been nearly 4 years since I blogged about Ericsson's Radio Dot. Ericsson announced Multi-operator Radio Dot Solution this week. As per the press release:

Ericsson has launched three new scalable small cell solutions designed to help expand the small cell market and meet the growing demand for better mobile coverage and capacity while preparing networks for 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT) applications: the Multi-Operator Dot and the Multi-Dot Enclosure for indoor deployments; and the Strand-Mount Unit for outdoor micro radios.

The Multi-Operator Dot solution delivers a set of Radio Dots that can be shared between multiple operators, with one operator managing the system while others provide radio frequency signals – similar to an active distributed antenna system (DAS). This new architecture allows up to four operators to broadcast over a single Dot solution; combining the multi-operator benefits of an active DAS solution with the performance, agility and cost-effective design of the Radio Dot System.

As its name suggests, the Multi-Dot Enclosure combines multiple Dots in a single enclosure. The enclosure has a minimal impact on building aesthetics, is useful for multi-operator deployments, and presents a cost-savings option in buildings that charge per box deployed.

The Strand-Mount Unit for outdoor micro radios makes it easier to install the radios on the existing grid, hung on aerial coax, fiber, or electricity cables. Aerial-strand deployments are critical for scaling outdoor small cells and can be deployed for both single and multi-operator usage. Ericsson’s new Strand-Mount Unit can support up to four micro radios, enabling multiple operators to utilize the same mount for cost-efficient deployments. The Strand-Mount Unit delivers superior outdoor coverage with zero footprint.


Just in case you were wondering what exactly Ericsson Radio Dot is, the specs can be seen in the picture above.

According to Fierce Wireless:

The most significant element of the announcement is the multioperator version of the Radio Dot, according to Ed Gubbins, senior analyst on the Global Telecom Technology & Software team at GlobalData.

One of the bigger hurdles to penetrating enterprises (which is what the Radio Dot was designed for) has been that enterprises often have multioperator needs—because enterprise inhabitants typically bring their own personal devices to work and have their own operators. The creation of a multioperator Dot is overdue and gives Ericsson a leg up over rivals like SpiderCloud (now Corning), which have single-operator solutions, Gubbins told FierceWirelessTech.

That said, there will still be challenges in penetrating enterprises, even with multioperator solutions. “Getting operators and enterprises to agree on using the same vendor and the same solution on a case-by-case basis isn’t necessarily quick, easy or easily scalable,” he said.

The technologies Ericsson is using to help enable multioperator functionality (MORAN & MOCN) have been around for quite a while, as has the Radio Dot itself. “So the fact that it’s taken years to see a multioperator Radio Dot, despite how long one has been technologically possible to develop, gives some indication that this isn’t perceived as a silver bullet by any means,” he said.

However, the fact that Ericsson is presenting more than one model for multioperator deployment is a good thing; operator and enterprise sentiments will vary, so having some flexibility in this area should help, he added.


Just in case you were wondering, the different options for Mobile Network Sharing as as shown above.

A presentation from Ericsson detailing the new releease and their Small Cells portfolio in general is embedded below.



The Mobile Network magazine has some more info on this new products and comparison with other multi-operator deployments:

Unlike, say, the Nokia FlexiZone or SpiderCloud E-RAN  small cell designs, Radio Dots are not in themselves miniature base stations. Rather they are distributed radio heads attached to a centralised “feeder” baseband unit, mediated through an indoor remote unit (IRU). 

What Ericsson has announced is the ability to support multi-operator service in three ways.

First – parallel deployments with each operator using its own dedicated baseband, IRU and Dots. These Dots can be housed in the same enclosures (the new enclosures known as the multi-dot bracket) to tidy things up a bit.

Secondly – a multi-operator deployment using a shared baseband and IRU, over the same network of distributed radio heads, using MORAN (Multi Operator Radio Access Network) or MOCN (Multi Operator Core Network) network sharing capabilities.

Thirdly, a multi-operator Dot solution where operators provide multiple RF sources to the same Dot system. They do this by feeding baseband capacity to a new access unit from Ericsson, the RF Access Unit (RAU). This new RAU can support three 2×2 MIMO RF inputs, and can be connected on the other side to four IRUs, which then feed the shared Dot remote radioheads.

In both the second and third options, one operator remains in overall control of the deployment.

...

Ericsson’s Dot was initially designed as a single operator system, as was SpiderCloud’s competitive E-RAN. Where once SpiderCloud once made a virtue of its single-operator necessity – stating that an operator would gain competitive advantage by being the “best” carrier within a given office block or campus, it has in the past couple of years taken steps to add multi-operator capability – by adding support for more carriers,  LAA and CBRS models.

Another small cell vendor, ip.access, has also gone down the multi-operator, or neutral host route. Ip.access’ Viper platform combines multi operator access points with a gateway node that can be deployed as a virtual instance that links to separate operator core networks.

Huawei recently expanded band support for its LampSite product – probably the most similar product in terms of architectural design to the Radio Dot – and its aim was specifically to increase support for multi-operator deployments.

Although Ericsson claimed at launch that its dual band Dot could enable a multi-operator deployment, it clearly needed to take additional steps to really enable multi-operator models. One approach, as we have seen, is simply to make it a bit easier to deploy two or more instances of everything in the architecture. That seems like a hard model to scale economically, apart from in the biggest sites, perhaps. The other approaches either a) require the implementation of a new element (the RAU) or b) limits the number of multiple operators to two. 


Finally, embedded below is a video describing the Radio Dot in more technical detail for anyone interested. In case it does not automatically skip to 26.11 mins, please do it yourself



Ericsson is running a webinar on this topic on 27th September. Details here.

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