Vodafone UK gives live launch to SpiderCloud small cell E-RAN solution

Solution from SpiderCloud Wireless-NEC to be branded as Sure Signal Premium.

Vodafone UK has launched an indoor coverage solution for large enterprises based on technology from SpiderCloud Wireless. The launch makes the UK the second territory to deploy an enterprise services based on SpiderCloud, following Vodafone Netherlands which launched in September 2013.

The operator has been developing and trialling the solution with SpiderCloud for some time, and the public launch will give a further boost to the company that markets its systems as E-RAN (Enterprise Radio Access Network system). “With great input from Vodafone, we were able to build a commercial system capable of meeting demands of the world’s largest mobile operator and enable differentiated services to its enterprise customers,” said Ron Pelley, SpiderCloud’s Vice President and Managing Director, EMEA.

The service will be branded Sure Signal Premium, giving it continuity with Vodafone’s residential and SoHo femtocell Sure Signal. In fact, SpiderCloud’s system is more than “just” a larger capacity or “enterprise class” femtocell.

Also of note is that the system will support LTE from summer 2014, which puts it pretty much in line with Vodafone’s own rollout. SpiderCloud has been working hard to introduce LTE to its radio nodes, and introduced multi mode capability last year to its product.

SpiderCloud’s ERAN solution is neither DAS – it is not fed by an external signal or on-site “master” base station – nor a “pure” femtocell deployment.

It is formed of wireless nodes that are in themselves small cells powered and connected over Ethernet, and are in turn controlled by an on site controller – SpiderCloud calls it a services node – that is itself connected to the mobile operator’s core.

SpiderCloud formed a strategic partnership with NEC for NEC to integrate its solution as its large enterprise indoor coverage solution. The Vodafone product is a result of that partnership.

In its press release, Vodafone positioned the launch as a product of its combined fixed/mobile assets, as well as a result of its enhanced network investments. “As the only UK company to own an integrated fixed and mobile network, Vodafone is ideally positioned to provide the best possible connection for large businesses,” it said.

Fergal Kelly, CTO at Vodafone UK, said, “With Sure Signal Premium, large businesses can satisfy rising indoor capacity and coverage demands in a highly integrated, well managed way. This new service is just one benefit from the GBP900 million we spent last year on our fixed and mobile network in the UK.”

Interestingly Kelly also referenced BYOD as a key enterprise trend and a driver for improved coverage and capacity in large enterprises. One arrow often slung at the SpiderCloud solution by its competitors is that by being single-carrier it is ill-suited to support a bring your own carrier strategy within an enterprise.

Ronny Haraldsvik, CMO, SpiderCloud Wireless, emphasised the competitive differentiator for a mobile operator that can provide superior enterprise services.

“The issue of in-building coverage and capacity is a very real one for many enterprises, and is directly affecting business productivity. Businesses not only want this fixed and will churn to an operator that can solve it, but over half are also prepared to pay an increase of up to 30 percent per employee for improved indoor cellular coverage and capacity. Add in managed services such as Unified Comms or mobile device management, and this rises to over 90 per cent, according to recent research by iGR.”