Ruckus Wireless Makes Big Move to Small Cells

Ruckus Wireless have announced SmartCell, the first heterogeneous small cell wireless edge system that lets operators easily inject wireless capacity, increase coverage and enable new edge services while relieving radio access, backhaul and core infrastructure bottlenecks created by the deluge of data traffic hitting their networks.

February 29, 2012

Ruckus Wireless Unveils SmartCell – a New Line of Small Cell Service Provider Products that Ease Access, Backhaul, and Core Capacity Pressures While Delivering Reliable Wireless Services in High-Density Areas

Ruckus Wireless have announced SmartCell, the first heterogeneous small cell wireless edge system that lets operators easily inject wireless capacity, increase coverage and enable new edge services while relieving radio access, backhaul and core infrastructure bottlenecks created by the deluge of data traffic hitting their networks.

The fast uptake of mobile data services, driven by smartphones, laptops, and tablets, has accelerated data-traffic growth to the point where macro cellular networks are no longer sufficient to meet subscriber demand in many high-density settings. While the introduction of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology in the macro cellular network will provide partial relief, traffic volumes will continue to grow faster than operators can economically add capacity.

Ruckus SmartCell is the first in a new category of small cell systems designed to solve these problems by combining a multi-radio, multi-function access point, the SmartCell 8800, with the industry’s first small cell HetNet edge services platform, the SmartCell 200 gateway. The Ruckus SmartCell system lets operators easily enhance and extend their macro networks with smaller cellular networks that are an inseparable part of the mobile network infrastructure and built as part of an end-to-end solution.

With SmartCell, mobile operators can gain a capacity boost from LTE small cells, cutting costs and complexity by co-locating and combining them with Wi-Fi access points, sharing site-lease agreements and backhaul. The integration of Wi-Fi and LTE small cells within the cellular core also helps operators optimise network utilisation across the radio access network, providing a further improvement in performance, and creating a seamless experience for their subscribers.

The Case for Small Cells
Small cells represent a new architectural approach, enabling mobile operators to bring wireless capacity closer to subscribers, both indoors and outdoors, helping to relieve the growing pains caused by more devices, more users and more concurrent wireless connections. In-Stat estimates that by 2015, worldwide shipments of small cell equipment will reach $14 billion with outdoor metrocell shipments realising a compound annual growth rate of 248% over the next five years.

According to Peter Rysavy, president of Rysavy Research, “Small cells increase network capacity by reducing the number of subscribers per coverage area. Such small cells, however, can be problematic to deploy due to challenges such as providing backhaul. Any solution that helps overcome such challenges will ultimately benefit both operators and subscribers.”

“The telecom industry is going through major reconstruction as operators evaluate new network strategies to tackle the impact that the mobile Internet is having on their infrastructures,” says Selina Lo, president and CEO of Ruckus Wireless. “It’s not about whether operators should deploy Wi-Fi or cellular within smaller cells, they need to do both. By putting small cells closer to the subscriber, operators can lower the cost of transporting each bit while boosting wireless capacity. Users will access the network at much higher data rates and be able to get on and off the network more quickly – utilising less network capacity from a spectrum and time perspective. Our SmartCell is the first system of its kind designed with this in mind.”

Optimised Site Acquisition and No Touch Integration with the Mobile Core
One of the primary problems operators face with small cell deployments is the costly and time-consuming process of site acquisition. By combining Wi-Fi, cellular and backhaul within a single, small form factor device, the SmartCell 8800 is an ideal solution for rapid deployment in dense urban environments where flexible power, mounting and backhaul options are crucial to realising network coverage objec¬tives.

The Ruckus SmartCell system also integrates seamlessly with existing mobile operator 3GPP and LTE macro infrastructures with no disruption using standard 3G and 4G core interfaces. Regardless of the access method (cellular or Wi-Fi) the SmartCell 200 gateway makes full use of existing core systems such as authentication, billing and service provisioning interfaces to deliver a radio access-agnostic and -transparent experience for subscribers.

Cost-Effective Wi-Fi Backhaul for Small Cell Traffic
With the introduction of a large number of small cells, new challenges emerge for backhauling traffic from potentially tens of thousands of locations – often making conventional point-to-point microwave, bonded copper, and fiber-based backhaul solutions impractical or uneconomical.

Ruckus SmartCell uses advanced self-organising network (SON) principles to create resilient, high-speed Wi-Fi mesh backbone links between small cells. Proven in large-scale carrier deployments, Ruckus Smart Mesh technology offers a cost-effective, reliable and flexible alternative to conventional approaches. Adaptive directional antennas (BeamFlex) and predictive channel management (ChannelFly) combined with Smart Mesh deliver reliable backhaul for licensed cellular and unlicensed Wi-Fi traffic in both line of sight and non-line of site environments.

No-Hassle Clientless Authentication and Connectivity
To improve the user experience, operators want to eliminate the hassle of installing special software on subscriber phones for authentication as well as simplifying the Wi-Fi connection process. Current I-WLAN integration requires client handsets to support technologies such as IPSec and IKEv2 for authentication. However very few of today’s smart mobile devices support this.

To simplify the authentication experience, the Ruckus SmartCell system employs a clientless approach using EAP methods with IEEE 802.1x port-based authentication. This eliminates installing any software on client devices. Clients simply connect to the wireless network using the preferred EAP method with underlying secure AES encryption. The network then handles the 802.1x authentication process and integrates into the mobile packet core in a secure and manageable manner. Bringing a 3G-like user experience to Wi-Fi authentication and roaming, the Ruckus SmartCell system makes use of the new 802.11u protocol within the Wi-Fi alliance HotSpot 2.0 framework.

SmartCell Unleashed
Specifically designed for service providers, SmartCell is a new line of small cell products that include:

The SmartCell 200, the first massively scalable small cell HetNet edge gateway capable of supporting hundreds of thousands of Ruckus or non-Ruckus APs and millions of clients as well as providing standards-based 3GPP integration into existing and future mobile core infrastructures. Situated at the edge of operators’ mobile networks, the SmartCell 200 represents the first in a new category of scalable and versatile edge service platforms that eliminate the difficulties operators are experiencing with building and managing large-scale small cell networks and integrating them into their mobile core. Formerly known as the Ruckus Wireless Service Gateway (WSG), the SmartCell 200 is a highly integrated solution offering a huge collection of functions that transform the WSG into the first multi-function HetNet small cell gateway. This gives operators quicker, easier and more flexible deployment models that are much more economical relative to competitive solutions which require many different devices. In addition, the SmartCell topology allows operators to linearly scale their core capacity with growth, adding more SmartCell 200s to their network as client traffic rises and the network expands.

The SmartCell 8800, first multi-radio outdoor access node developed to integrate 3G/4G, Wi-Fi and backhaul into a single, lightweight, small-form factor. It is a completely new class of outdoor wireless product that integrates licensed and unlicensed band radio access technology, the Ruckus SmartCell 8800 was specifically developed to meet the capacity, density and challenges operators face in deploying heterogeneous networks within urban environments. The SmartCell 8800 uniquely provides dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi along with an optional add-on module for Ruckus or third-party 3G/4G radios that share integrated power and backhaul. This gives operators the flexibility to deploy Wi-Fi with Smart Mesh backhaul today and upgrade to Wi-Fi with LTE when and where desired without any mounting or backhaul changes. Integrated within the small, low-profile and lightweight form factor, patented Ruckus BeamFlex adaptive antenna technol¬ogy enables the SmartCell 8800 to deliver longer range Wi-Fi and cellular signals, provide better signal penetration, maintain resilient mesh connections, and adapt to interference and changing environmental conditions.

These SmartCell products including the 200 and 8800 are not currently available but will be made available locally later in 2012.

For more information on these products, please visit: http://www.ruckuswireless.com/press/releases/20120227-big-move-to-small-cells