The US start-up that is trying to reimagine the cost structures of building has released details of two new products designed to drive an entirely new cost structure for major enterprise wireless deployments.
Parallel Wireless has announced a reference design (white label) Cellular Access Point femtocell built on an Intel chipset. Alongside the ODM-able femto it has released its upgraded HetNet Gateway Orchestrator – a solution that integrates several network gateway elements (HeNB,FemtoGS, Security GW, ePDG, TWAG), plus SON capability, as Virtual Network Functions on standard Intel hardware, enabled by Intel Open Network Platform Server and DPDK accelerators.
The net result, Parallel Wireless claims, is an architecture that can enable much cheaper deployments than current large scale wireless competitors. More cost-stripping comes with the femto reference design which is intended to be extremely low cost to manufacture.
The company claimed that comparable system costs place it far below the likes of SpiderCloud’s E-RAN, Ericsson’s Radio Dot and Huawei’s LampSite solutions.
The brains of the piece is the HetNet Gateway, which provides X2, Iuh, Iur and S1 interface support, thereby providing unified mobility management across WCDMA, LTE and WiFi access. As an NFV-enabled element it also fits in with MEC architectures and can also deployed at different points in the network, dependent on where the operator deems fit.
One challenge for Parallel will be to convince operators that the HetNet Gateway is the element they need in their network to provide the SON, orchestration, X2 brokering and so on of the RAN. Not only is it challenging them to move to an Intel-based virtualised architecture for key gateway and security functions, but also given the “open” nature of NFV, in theory there is no particular need for operators to move to Parallel’s implementation as the host of these VNFs.
Additionally, it’s a major structural change to make just to be able to address the enterprise market, attractive as it is. Of course, you wouldn’t expect Parallel’s ambitions to stop at the enterprise use case – this is likely it biting off the first chunk of the market it thinks best suits its Intel-based vRAN capabilities.
And Parallel would no doubt also point out that the HNG is not solely integrated with Parallel access points, and could be used to manage other vendors’ equipment, giving operators a multi-vendor, cross-mode control point in the network.
Another challenge for the startup will be that it is introducing its concept at a time when the likes of Altiostar with its virtualised RAN, and Artemis (now in an MoU with Nokia) with its pCell are introducing new concepts to outdoor radio. Indoors the likes of SpiderCloud and Airvana (Commscope) market themselves along broadly similar lines. For instance Airvana already tags its OneCell as providing LTE at the economics of WiFi. Another example: SpiderCloud‘s Intel-based services control node is positioned by the vendor as fitting into the virtualised edge vision, and SpiderCloud was a founder member of the ETSI MEC SIG.
In other words, it is going to take some time for all of this to shake out. There can be little doubt, however, that the direction of travel is NFV marching further towards the edge, on standard hardware. Parallel, then, is positioning itself on that road. Can it hitch a ride?