Mobile World Congress: Vodafone deploys small cells for indoor environments

Vodafone revealed as the launch customer for a new Cisco small cell system designed for large enterprises and venue environments

Mobile network operator Vodafone will be first to deploy a new small cell system, developed jointly by Cisco and SpiderCloud Wireless, to support large enterprise and venue mobile deployments.

Announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the Universal Small Cell (USC) 8000 Series – which Cisco will supply through a reseller agreement – was developed in response to customer demand for more scalable and integrated small cells.

With mobile usage an increasingly indoor activity in many businesses and public spaces, mobile signals can still often be hard to find indoors and, according to Cisco, traditional in-building systems like distributed antennas are often no longer viable.

The USC 8000 Series responds to this need working side-by-side with existing Wi-Fi deployments to enable more flexible and reliable mobile usage in large indoor environments.

It contains a number of advances, the developers said, including real-time co-ordination and a distributed self-organising network (SON) for up to 100 LTE or 3G access points (APs).

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The USC 8000 Series also includes integration with Cisco Aironet 3600 and 3700 Wi-Fi APs; increased scale and flexibility through Cisco’s ASR 5500 Mobile Packet Core and Virtualised Packet Core; the ability to co-ordinate, manage, analyse and monetise network traffic; and integration with Cisco SON to avoid fragmentation costs and maintain a consistent user experience.

Vodafone director of innovation and architecture Matt Beal said he was seeing high demand for more reliable coverage indoors from enterprise customers.

“We will be able to offer our enterprise customers a highly flexible small cell system that can be deployed rapidly and cost-effectively to enhance the quality of the mobile and Wi-Fi coverage our customers rely on,” he said.

Cisco service provider mobility and network infrastructure senior vice-president and general manager Joe Cozzolino claimed the USC8000 Series offered the industry’s most comprehensive end-to-end small cell and Wi-Fi system.

“Working with Vodafone enables us to give enterprise customers a complete, high-quality mobile experience in every building, helping to transform the role of mobility in their business.”

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