Industry analysts have been quick to describe Cisco’s acquisition of Ubiquisys as an important milestone in the emerging small cells market. That’s not surprising – Ubiquisys pioneered much of the intelligent technology that is making mass-scale deployments of small cells a commercial imperative. Autonomous, cognitive operation, automatic SON formation and cloud-based lifecycle management are just a few examples. When combined with Cisco’s comprehensive mobility portfolio and Wi-Fi expertise, they add-up to much more than the sum of their parts, forming a distinctive new small cell solution that complements macro networks and enables service providers to transition to next generation radio access networks.

Service providers around the world are multiplying data capacity to better serve the rapidly growing population of smartphone and tablet users. Small cells are the only solution that can combine massive capacity and maximum spectrum re-use with reduced operational costs. But realising these benefits demands a solution with intelligence – cells that can dynamically adapt to their environment to allow dense deployment; cells that work together without requiring expert planning and intensive operational management; cells which can operate autonomously from policies defined by central “hetnet” coordination systems. Most of the early small cells market has been focused on miniaturising base stations. Both Ubiquisys and Cisco have already taken it much further, building the intelligent systems that will simplify and densify small cell network deployments.

Many of the areas where small cells can make the biggest difference are indoor spaces, such as hotspots, enterprises, venues and concourses. These are environments where Wi-Fi already provides mobile internet services and where Cisco is a market and innovation leader. Multi-service small cells, intelligently combining 4G/3G and Wi-Fi, enable service providers to harmonise the capabilities of licensed and unlicensed technologies in a controlled manner, improving user experience. This is yet another example of the importance of intelligence in small cells and of the natural alignment between Cisco and Ubiquisys. You can see Cisco multi-service small cells and meet the team at the Small Cells World Summit in London on June 4-6.

And you can find out more about latest Cisco small cell solutions on the Cisco website and service provider mobility blog.

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Will Franks speaking from the Ubiquisys executive demo suite at Mobile World Congress. He comments on the state of the small cells market, Ubiquisys differentiators and the demos on show. These include fundamentally important multimode LTE/WiFi/3G indoor metrocells and innovative partner applications for the Ubiquisys smart cell (small cell with edge computing platform based on Intel® architecture).

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Keith Day takes a whirlwind tour around some of the small cell technology running in the Ubiquisys Demo Suite at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. These include multimode indoor metrocells with WiFi, LTE and 3G. And three new smart cell applications running on the award-winning Ubiquisys/Intel edge computing platform.

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Will Franks, Ubiquisys CTO and co-founder, talks about the evolution of Ubiquisys’ intelligent small cells

Intelligent small cells – that was our starting point when we kick-started Ubiquisys in 2004. Miniature cells that dynamically adapt to the changing conditions to provide a valuable low cost complement to the macro network. We called them femtocells, technology we pioneered that has become the foundation for a new generation of technology – public access small cells and small cell SONs. But more on them in a moment.

Our founding vision arose from us as mobile users and what we needed. Cellular network performance needed to catch up with our phones’ capabilities – not hanging out of windows for coverage or waiting forever for web pages to load. To achieve this we had to invent a new industry as well as some very smart innovations. We went ahead and solved the cost, scalability, usability, and the flaky backhaul challenges that the cellular industry of the time had not begun to address. At the core of our inventions were miniature cellular base stations that were intelligent enough to think for themselves – to enable dense deployments without interference problems, and to enable autonomous self-organising networks (SONs) and heterogeneous networks (hetnets). This was the birth of the femtocell; now grown up and known as the small cell.

2007 saw the birth of the iPhone and Android and so began our universal addiction to always connected smart devices. This has placed demands on mobile networks that not even the bidders for the 3G licences back in 2000 had predicted. How do mobile service providers build capacity in the limited spectrum that they have and at a cost they can afford? Fortunately, the intelligent small cell, based on what we had invented for femtocells, has proved to be the right solution.

But with the move to public access small cells, intelligence becomes a broader subject and several new challenges have needed to be addressed.

  • Delivering high availability
    Service providers are rightly demanding that public small cells match the KPIs of the macro network. A small cell, with limited capacity and often sharing commodity backhaul, needs dynamic and autonomous techniques to maintain service quality amongst users and to balance its workload between surrounding cells. We have achieved this, led by SoftBank in Japan and Korea Telecom, where we already have over 50,000 public small cells delivering high capacity voice and data in public hotspots and not-spots.
  • Delivering multi-technology
    The small cell is a junction of technologies, comprising typically of 3G, 4G and WiFi plugged into an internet connection. This blend of licensed and unlicensed technologies is what we are delivering now with our own innovation recipes that are continuing to keep us as market leaders.
  • Hetnet compatibility
    And now the intelligent indoor small cells, based on Iuh standards from the femtocell world, are joining the bigger network picture. Small cells and macro cells are becoming increasingly dynamic, and increasingly coordinated by central SON systems that in turn dynamically adapt the policies that each network needs to follow. Intelligent small cells, and local SONs of small cells, make autonomous decisions based on local conditions, and central SON management like that provided by Intucell (recently acquired by Cisco) provides the umbrella dynamic self organisation across the macro and the small cell domains.
  • Smart cells – the edge cloud
    Working with Intel, Ubiquisys has pioneered the integration of a powerful computing platform into its intelligent small cells and the cloud based management and delivery of applications to the edge cloud, securely. This is important for two reasons. First, it provides a place where cell intelligence can operate and evolve without constraints. Second, and more importantly, it moves cloud applications and content to the very edge of the network, closer to mobile users. We’re all familiar with the performance benefits of Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) in the fixed internet, which store and serve content closer to the edge of the network. Smart cells provide these benefits to mobile users, and the performance benefits are even greater because the content is closer and speed restrictions in small cell backhaul are eliminated.

We’ve built and evolved our vision of intelligent small cells, and judging by the speed at which they are now being deployed around the world, it’s clear our vision is now shared. It’s especially encouraging to see that this smart cell innovation is now being adopted by leading service providers, not just in small cells but in all cells.

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Ubiquisys arrives at MWC 2013 after a very successful year. We’ve expanded our range of small cells with innovative multi-mode LTE/3G/WiFi products and Smart Cells with integrated Intel® hybrid cloud servers. We’re serving strategic new customers in the Americas, Europe and SE Asia. Our intelligent small cell technology has delivered 99.999% availability in some of the world’s most demanding indoor metro deployments. And we’ve doubled the number of tier 1 systems integrator partnerships from 2 to 4, meaning that Ubiquisys intelligent small cell tech is now embedded in the major slice of commercially available solutions.

LTE multi-mode small cells – focus on indoor metro and enterprise
Working with silicon platforms from long-term partners Texas Instruments and Broadcom, Ubiquisys will be demonstrating a range of novel LTE/3G/WiFi products that can handle the immediate need to ramp capacity and provide an adaptive evolution to LTE provision. Ubiquisys has deployed outdoor small cells but our focus is on intelligent cells for indoor public spaces, where the majority of mobile data is consumed. The combination of abundant sites, simple installation and automatic operation means that indoor cells can be economically deployed in much larger numbers for a sustainable ramp in integrated 3G/4G/WiFi capacity (see our infographic on indoor/outdoor small cells).

High availability indoor metrocells
Our latest products feature ActiveCell® high-availability software designed, developed and deployed in 10s of thousands of Small Cells serving high capacity demand public environments. ActiveCell® high-availability software has now been proven in thousands of indoor metro sites in South Korea and Japan, delivering 99.999% availability and parity with macro network features and KPIs. This is in addition to the proven ActiveRadio® the most widely deployed intelligent self-organising cellular small cell, and ActiveSON® self-organising grids of multiple networked small cells that are continuing to be commercially deployed in Enterprises in significant numbers on a daily basis.

Smart cells – new applications for the hybrid cloud
Working with Intel, Ubiquisys has pioneered the smart cell: part small cell hotspot, part powerful computing platform. This new class of smart small cell adds cloud and core networking capabilities at the edge of the network, bringing new services closer to mobile users. At MWC 2013 our smart cell demonstrations will include:

  • Lawful Intercept (LI) compliant edge caching
  • Dynamic video compression and virus protection
  • A mobile PBX solution for the SME segment

Further smart cell demonstrations will be taking place at the Intel® stand, running on the end-to-end Intel AppUp® SMB application service.

Mobile World Congress is a great opportunity see the latest Ubiquisys technology in action. This year we’ve set up a private meeting and demonstration suite in Hall 1, because several of our latest innovations and alliances are not yet in the public domain. If you are interested in meeting us in Barcelona please contact mwc@ubiquisys.com.

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