The Proven Recipe for Carrier-Class Wi-Fi Deployments
The tremendous acceleration in mobile data traffic has been well documented over the years and continues in all geographies. Most of the traffic is coming from highly concentrated areas where large numbers of people congregate. There are several techniques that can be used to address the densification challenge including Wi-Fi APs, 3G/LTE small cells, more macro cells, and additional RF carriers. Each of these options will be part of the mobile operator’s toolkit.
Wi-Fi is an especially strong solution for very high-density public venues, because it offers a tremendous amount of capacity, is supported on all data-centric devices, and it supports efficient neutral host deployments. Another compelling feature of Wi-Fi technology is that it can be deployed by a wide variety of service providers including MNOs, MSOs, and wireline providers. When this is combined with Hotspot 2.0 technology, it enables a level of densification that goes far beyond what any one MNO could accomplish.
The advantages of Wi-Fi are compelling, but service providers must have a carrier-class solution that is agile, flexible, and extensible.
The SmartCell architecture provides just such a solution, and it includes access points, WLAN controllers, WLAN gateways, and value added services. With this architecture, all of the capabilities are now in place for Wi-Fi to take its place alongside 3G and LTE as one of the cornerstone RF technologies in the mobile Internet. In time, Wi-Fi will so weave itself into the fabric of the mobile experience that users won’t even be aware of what radio technology they are using.
Essential capabilities of the RUCKUS SmartCell architecture include:
- Reliable wireless connectivity without which nothing else really matters.
- Standards-based integration, which involves the incorporation of key industry standards around Wi-Fi cellular integration and roaming.
- An agile design that is scalable, flexible, and extensible is required to address the rapid changes in both technology and business models. This would include support for Wi-Fi enabled value added services.
Reliable Wireless Connectivity:
The RUCKUS SmartCell architecture focuses on using the right RAN technology for the job. Macro cellular RANs are extremely well suited to vehicular mobility and wide area coverage, whereas Wi-Fi and 3G/LTE small cells are ideally suited to local areas and very high capacity. Most of the stress on today's mobile networks is coming from highly concentrated locations where large numbers of people congregate. These locations are usually centered around downtown city centers, arenas and stadiums, conventions centers, airports, hotels, train stations, etc. The focus of the RUCKUS architecture is to use Wi-Fi to increase network densification in those locations.
The challenge with highly concentrated locations is that to get capacity, it is necessary to deploy large numbers of APs in a fairly confined area. This can introduce the potential for interference, and this is the case regardless of the radio access technology that is used. The optimum solution for very high-density deployments is to make use of adaptive antenna technology, lots and lots of spectrum, dual-mode devices, and a self-optimizing network architecture.
- Adaptive antenna technology can steer RF energy toward the user and away from neighboring APs that would see this as interference. The latter is very important in high-density design, as interference is often the limiting factor in a deployment. Adaptive antenna technology has been proven in high-density venues worldwide and offers a significant advantage over legacy solutions.
- In high-density deployments there is no such thing as too much spectrum, and Wi-Fi has access to upwards of 600 MHz in many geographies. This far exceeds the licensed spectrum that a mobile operator would have in a major metro area. In many indoor deployments, the venue owner can exercise a great deal of control over what gets deployed in their building, which can help keep unlicensed bands from getting congested.
- Almost all data-centric wireless devices (laptops, tablets, and smartphones) now support the 5 GHz band, which will greatly improve network throughput in high-density deployments.
- Self-optimizing network technologies like ChannelFlyTM enable APs deployed in close proximity to automatically select the optimum channel for the situation based on realizable capacity, and switch channels as circumstance dictate. One factor that changes the RF characteristics of a venue is the ebb and flow of the crowd, as people do absorb RF energy.
With HetNets based on Wi-Fi access points, 3G/TE small cells, and macro cells the user can now expect an always bestconnected experience.