Next week in Taipei is Small Cells Asia, the region’s most important event of its kind in 2012.
He’ll be talking about smart cells – a new hybrid device that combines an intelligent small cell with a comms-tuned cloud server.
Take a small cell hotspot…
Before we talk about smart cells, let’s be clear about the small cell environment where we see them initially deployed. We’re talking about public access hotspots, typically providing data capacity and coverage in indoor public places such as retail premises.
It’s important that we are clear about the typical characteristics of these small cell hotspots. They’re multi technology on the wireless front, and the limiting factor on data performance is not the wireless interface but the backhaul, which is typically commodity DSL.
These are cells that we have commercially deployed today, and which provide mobile data capacity at an unbeatable price per megabyte and a fraction of the operational costs of manually planned cells.
Now add horsepower and lots of storage
Working alongside Intel, we developed a powerful computing platform for small cells. The Intel® Core® or Atom® CPUs with hardware accelerators are not providing the baseband function, but are specifically tuned for communications processing activities.
We’re talking about a lot of processing power. For example, a typical Core® variant can handle around 40Gbps of inline processing, such as video adaptation or virus scanning.
We’re also talking about a lot of storage at the edge of the network – typically a 40 or 80 GB SSD. We then integrated this ultra-compact comms-tuned server with our 3G / LTE small cell platform.
The result is a Smart Cell – a completely new category of Small Cell
There are two sides to a smart cell – the platform itself and the applications that harness its potential. Working with specialist app developers like Edge Datacoms, we have already demonstrated what is possible today.
Smart Cell applications
We’ll cover the applications area in more detail over the next couple of months, but here is an overview of some of the main categories:
- Cache and content management
Serving media content direct from the smart cell is an immediate and rewarding experience. It can also cut backhaul traffic in half. Edge Datacoms has developed a sophisticated system that involves proactively storing videos on the cell on the first play, predictively downloading content based on past behaviour, and maintaining a range of local media. For users it’s just ultra-fast and dependable media experience.
- Wireless policy management
Smart cells combine multiple cellular and WiFi technologies, and they can “see” backhaul and wireless congestion in real-time. Sophisticated policy management systems can dynamically integrate these technologies and demand a lot of processing power.
- “Core” inline processing
Smart cells enable applications that could previously only run inside the core network, protecting users with virus checking and URL filtering, and a variety of deep packet inspection capabilities.
- Video adaptation
Dynamically adapting video quality in real time at the edge of the network, depending on congestion and device type.
- Video advertising
Mobile video ads are not popular with advertisers, mainly because the quality of experience is unpredictable. Serving ads directly from the smart cell solves the quality problem and enables operators to work ad-funded hotspot data deals.
- Upload proxy
Receiving photos/videos in a smart cell proxy app, followed by negotiated upload to the cloud app. Overcomes the two main reasons that folks don’t upload their content in public places – poor performance and battery life.
If you’re at the event you can catch Steve’s presentation on Tuesday at 3.25pm. If not, we’ll make sure it’s available online at ubiquisys.com.