A week in the net: SON, fronthaul, backhaul, small cells, and a manifesto for change

Week two of the big pre-MWC push sees a whole lot more releases. Remember, there's a full pre-week to go, plus the week itself. Can you make it all the way through? Make it easier on yourself by scanning this week's Week in the Net.

1. Ericsson: lots and lots
Last week it was NSN’s turn, this week Ericsson decided to pull the pin out of the grenade and launch a bunch of releases at the market.

There’s not much more I can do that point you to these releases on Ericsson’s own site, save to note a couple of things. 1. Small cells is really rising up Ericsson’s public agenda although there’s not much detail on its Small Cells as a Service release. 2. Harder to write PR about, but network performance, management, control is a “thing” this year for Ericsson. Finally, there’s a PR on a virtualised EPC. Operator cloud is here and now.

2. Carrier WiFi
There’s going to be dedicated Carrier WiFi Summit within MWC. So if you want to get ahead on all the latest NGH, Hotspot 2.0 chat, then you might be interested to know that the Wireless Broadband Alliance has had a go at defining Carrier WiFi. The WBA says that the term lacks a “universally recognised meaning among operators, vendors and industry bodies alike.” This is not something that can be allowed to continue, and so the WBA has laid down some guidelines. Read themhere.

3. Eblink: wireless fronthaul3.
Eblink makes E-Band radios that it is positioning as wireless fronthaul equipment. What is that? Fronthaul is the link between a baseband processing unit or hotel, and the remote radio. This is often thought to be something that requires fibre, but Eblink begs to differ, and says its Fronthaul 58 solution can give 7 Gbps on a wireless link within a 100MHz bandwidth. What Eblink is really excited about is that it can make public that Orange France has been playing with its kit. And look at this for a quote from Jean-Luc Vuillemin, director of the Orange France network. “In just a few months, EBlink has demonstrated that it can attain the ambitious performance levels predicted. It’s remarkable”. Remarkable indeed.

4. Siklu: Wireless backhaul
With its ears to the ground and eye on the trend of meeting the need for super quick and super easy, street-level installations of wireless kit by much-demeaned “technicians” (for which read ham-fisted hammer bashers), Siklu says it has got the installation and commissioning process of its EtherHaul millimeter wave backhaul systems down to 15 minutes or less. What it’s got is an auto alignment tool for the radios, and SON integration.

5. CBNL: Even more wireless backhaul
CBNL, which you will know as a provider of point to multi-point microwave systems that it very much hopes will provide small cell backhaul to lots of operators, said it has doubled platform capacity on its VectaStar products, to 600Mbps. That will mean delivery of 4.8 Gbps to hub sites, the vendor said. Operators will need this extra capacity for LTE, the company added.

6. Vasona Networks: getting a grip on the cell
Vasona Networks , featured in the latest issue of TMN Quarterly, folks, announced SmartVISION. This is an analysis “suite” that churns the data passing through its SmartAIR 1000 edge application controller. Vasona’s USP is that as it sits out on the network edge, and not on the Gi interface, it has an edge (pun intended) on DPI platforms that can see application info but not gain insight into actual in-cell conditions. SmartVISION is deployed in the NOC to provide a consolidated view of how each RAN (radio access network) cell sector performs. What you need to know, though, is that here is another company aiming making a “network intelligence + customer data” big data play.

7. Radisys: small cell win.
Radisys said that its TotalENodeBsolution has been selected by NEC as the basis of its LTE small cells. NEC was attracted by Radisys’ cunning blend of TD and FD-LTE, and will use the platform in its oudoor Lte picocells.

8. Real Wireless: Manifesto for the approaching storm
Sounding like it was preparing to do battle in the night against approaching enemy hordes, wireless consultancy Real Wireless produced this week a Manifesto that would help operators deal with an approaching perfect storm.

“We’ve taken a look at every aspect of the wireless industry, from spectrum to technology, the economics, the locations people are using wireless and the commercial opportunities. All included we’ve found that mobile operators are facing a perfect storm of challenges starting from this year. The next few years pose an unprecedented challenge, and few operators are preparing for it,” said Professor Simon Saunders, Director of Technology and co-founder of Real Wireless.

Are you ready for the gathering storm? Only one way to find out… Only one way to find out…

9. NSN -Huawei
Oh go on then, NSN, just one more. After last week’s marathon, NSN tiptoed back in, put a press release down on the desk, and shuffled away again. What did it say? Why, that it had signed a bi-lateral agreement with Huawei to cross license their OSS interfaces. The winner here will be operators with both vendors’ kit in their networks, or who are thinking about having both vendors in a network. The agreement between the vendors has been dubbed, OSS interoperability initiative (OSSii).

10. Kontron and Vantrix: get monetised with Big Data
Comms platform provider Kontron, and video optimisation specialist Vantrix announced the launch of a combined video optimisation and Big Data platform that will allow for high density transcoding of video, but also rapid analysis of video traffic data, giving operators a better chance to understand what’s going on with video on their network, and either think of a way to make money from it or save money delivering it. Verdict: cloud friendly.

11. Cloudberry: Small cell integration, super quick
Cloudberry, known as a company that provides small cells as a service, says that through its gateway it can now offer integration with a mobile operator’s network in just 16 hours. Cloudberry’s managed service hosts a small cell gateway and remotely operates all of the logistics of rolling out enterprise and residential small cells. Its managed service runs 100% on Cisco kit, by the way.

12. Commscope: antenna cleverness – Standard Interface
Commscope thinks it has spotted a problem with antenna-radio head connectors – they’re too lossy (too much loss through PIM) and too inflexible when repairing or changing.
Commscope has introduced a solution that uses capacitive induction instead of a “metal to metal” connection forming what it calls a Standard Interface – reducing PIM and making it much easier to add or swap out radio heads – plug and play at the top of the tower. It’s quite clever.

13. Kathrein: Indoor cleverness
Kathrein has introduced a solution for indoor coverage that works a bit like a scaled down C-RAN system. C-RAN, you will remember, centralises baseband processing and then distributes that capacity to remote radios as and when needed. Kathrein’s K-BOW system takes the concept and applies it to indoor installations. It’s calling it Micro C-RAN, and it says it answers the need for multi-operator, multi-band and multi-standard operation – using the flexibility of a mobile communications capacity pool to dynamically meet changing demand for data.

14. Tellabs: Lots of new router capabilities
Tellabs has refreshed its edge router portfolio (where a lot of the backhaul traffic is aggregated in mobile networks, with a collection of product upgrades and feature uplifts. You can see them here. Notable for market-watchers – a timing/synch SFP module, and the introduction of SON capabilities.

15. Amdocs: SON solution as result of Celcite and Actix
Amdocs has parcelled up its existing telco software with that of acquisitions Celcite and Actix and headed to market with the Amdocs Self-Optimizing Networks(SON) solution. If you were aware of what Actix and Celcite did then there won’t be much here to surprise you – geo-located customer and network data etc. One thing to note, Amdocs promoting its “expanded focus on the network software domain.” That coming together of the traditional BSS with the network operational side was a key theme in 2013, and will be in 2014.