Friday, 11 January 2019

Dense Air: The Neutral Host Small Cell Wholesale Network Operator


Dense Air was launched at MWC 2018 as a new wholesale network operator, that “enhances and extends” the coverage and capacity of existing Mobile Networks as a “Carrier of Carriers” operator, typically on a neutral host basis.

According to the announcement:

Dense Air uses Airspan’s comprehensive portfolio set of 4G and 5G small cells to offer services to Mobile Operators in licensed spectrum dedicated to small cells for densification/extension deployments.

According to Paul Senior, Acting CEO of Dense Air, “By adding small cells, running in dedicated licensed spectrum to Macro networks at cell edge either outdoors or indoors, we can dramatically improve the service experience to end users, increase speeds and network capacity. Importantly, Dense Air does not and will not offer retail mobile services and does not compete in any way with mobile service providers.”

“The economics of both 4G and 5G small cell deployments can be dramatically improved when deployed using a neutral host solution, i.e. when a single network of small cells can host multiple operators. Our mission is to help MNOs and MVNOs improve their networks by densification without the need to spend CAPEX”.

Interested readers can refer to earlier posts about Airspan's Magic Box and their deployment in Reliance Jio.

According to the website, Dense Air now has spectrum in following countries:
  • Dense Air Ireland: Operating in 3.6GHz (Band 42 & 43)
  • Dense Air Belgium: Operating in 2.6GHz (Band 38)
  • Dense Air Portugal: Operating in 3.6GHz (Band 42 & 43)
  • Dense Air New Zealand: Operating in 2.6GHz (Band 7 & 41)
  • Dense Air Australia: Operating in 3.6GHz (3GPP Band n77 & n78)

Their most recent win has been the spectrum win in the six largest Australian cities, by participating in the ACMA 5G Spectrum Auction. The acquired spectrum supports 5G operation in 3GPP bands n77/n78.

So what exactly is Dense Air and what do they do? As per their launch press release:

Dense Air is an optimised network densification and network extension service.
  • Solution delivered using Indoor and Outdoor Small Cells
  • Service operates in licensed, dedicated spectrum
  • Dense Air small cells provide services on a “Neutral Host” basis
  • We support 4G LTE and LTE Pro networks and later 5G NR
  • Dense Air fills coverage holes and capacity weak spots in Macro Networks
  • Services are offered on a wholesale “Carrier of Carriers” basis to Mobile Network Operators
  • We DO NOT compete with Mobile Operators or other Service Providers
  • Our services are delivered in Urban, Suburban or Rural areas
  • The focus is on mobile use cases, including eMBB, IoT, Public Safety
  • We also enable Private LTE Networks for Large Enterprises and Governments

A presentation by Paul Senior at UK Spectrum Policy Forum meeting last year is embedded below and can be downloaded from techUK website here:




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