Swedish telecom equipment maker 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, breakthrough solution, called Ericsson Radio Dot System, addresses a range of scenarios for high-quality access to mobile broadband and voice services indoors.
Ericsson said an in-building environment presents a special set of challenges for mobile operators, concerning complexity, scalability, and service continuity.
?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 company said.
At present, Ericsson said more than 70 percent of mobile traffic is generated indoors. However, there is no mainstream technology that can offer a complete and optimized solution to cover all building types and fulfill operator and user demands.
?Without a solution, the problem of indoor connectivity will increase in the coming years, with mobile data traffic projected to increase 12 times by 2018,? it said.
The Ericsson Radio Dot System is expected to remove indoor bottlenecks by providing coverage to different kinds of users in medium to large indoor locations.
The system uses an innovative element ? a radio dot ? which enables high performance mobile broadband. One cell can be used to cover each floor, or multiple cells can be added to enhance capacity.
Dots are connected and powered via standard Internet LAN cables to indoor radio units that link to a base station. The Radio Dot System has the same features found in Ericsson’s macro base station. Thus, user experience is consistent wherever they go and the indoor network evolves in lockstep with the outdoor network, it said.
It also supports integration with Ericsson’s carrier Wi-Fi portfolio, enabling features such as real-time traffic steering to ensure the best user experience across both Wi-Fi and 3G networks.
The company said the solution is compact and offers flexible mounting. The device weighs 300 grams, is the result of two years of research and development, and incorporates 14 patents, it added.
Although the product is expected to be commercially available in late 2014, Ericsson said it has already seen interest from operators around the world.
?It is reasonable to assume that first deployments will take place in the US. In the region, we are exploring this system with SingTel in Singapore. Verizon is also looking forward to collaborating with us on the Radio Dot,? said Petra Schirren, mobile broadband engagement practice head at Ericsson Southeast Asia and Oceania.
Because of its size, Schirren said the Radio Dot System is designed to be price-competitive in a broad range of building sizes.
?The frame of reference for price-competitiveness is picos/femtos in smaller buildings and DAS Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) in larger buildings. The Radio Dot System targets that broad range of buildings in between,? the executive said.
Schirren, however, said it is only providing pricing information to operator customers at this time. Cost to the operator will also depend whether design is for coverage or capacity, he added.