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Ericsson launches small cell radio device for indoor telecom links

T.C. Seow | Sept. 26, 2013
Small, unobtrusive Radio Dot System will fully integrate with macro mobile networks and leverage existing indoor wiring and outdoor cellular infrastructure

Ericsson Radio Dot System
Pix: Ericsson Radio Dot System. Source: Ericsson.

Ericsson is launching a cellular radio that is small enough to fit a person's hand, but provides enough indoor network coverage for a crowd. The disk-shaped device, called Ericsson Radio Dot System, addresses a broad range of scenarios for providing high-quality access to mobile broadband and voice services indoors.

An in-building environment presents a special set of challenges for mobile operators, concerning complexity, scalability and service continuity, said Ericsson. Current indoor solutions are built mainly for voice coverage and do not meet the growing capacity demands of apps. Covering major parts of buildings has been challenging, for reasons such as high costs and limited scalability.

The Radio Dot System is compact and offers flexible mounting, said Ericsson. Weighing just 300 grams, the device is the result of two years of research and development, and incorporates 14 patents. It introduces a revolutionary antenna element, or "dot," which delivers mobile broadband access to users. Because of its convenient size, scalability, and evolution path, it caters to different kinds of users in medium to large indoor locations, and aims to address operators' needs of offering a complete indoor solution.

Dots are connected and powered via standard internet LAN cables (Category 5/6/7) to indoor radio units that link to a base station. The system leverages the same features found in Ericsson's macro base station. It also supports integration with Ericsson's carrier Wi-Fi portfolio enabling features such as real-time traffic steering across both Wi-Fi and 3GPP networks. 

Ericsson said the product has already been gaining interest from mobile operators in the U.S. However, the product is expected to be commercially available in the region in late 2014.

Regional plans
Nicholas Seow, President and Country Manager of Ericsson Singapore & Brunei said: "In Singapore, mobile subscribers' requirements are becoming even more demanding. In a City Life study conducted by Ericsson ConsumerLab this year, Singapore subscribers have stated that seamless and efficient coverage in indoor facilities would greatly improve their mobile experience."

Through a quick email interview, Petra Schirren, Vice President, Mobile Broadband Engagement Practice, Ericsson South East Asia & Oceania, has this to say:
Q: When is Ericsson rolling out the Radio Dot system in Singapore and the region?
Schirren: We have already seen interest from operators around the world. It is reasonable to assume that first deployments will take place in the U.S. In the region, we can confirm that we are exploring the Radio Dot System with SingTel in Singapore.

In Singapore and also in many Asian countries, multiple operators own the infrastructure. How will Ericsson work with local operators to roll out Radio Dot System?
While we have designed the Radio Dot System architecture to support multi-operator deployments, operators will determine their own business models for network sharing. With the very small form factor of the Radio Dot there is also potential for a multiple single operator deployment model that will enable differentiation between operators in the indoor environment. This sets the Radio Dot System apart from DAS systems.


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