Thursday 3 October 2013

Ericsson's Radio Dot System

Just come back from the SON conference, I noticed that Ericsson's dot system was discussed heavily on what it is and how its different from Alcatel-Lucent Light Radio and NSN's Liquid radio. Here is a bit of detail from the Ericsson press release:

Ericsson Radio Dot System 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 introduces a revolutionary antenna element, or "dot," which delivers mobile broadband access to users. Because of its convenient size, scalability, and compelling evolution path, this product 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. Radio Dot System leverages the same industry-leading features found in Ericsson's macro base station. Deployments and upgrades are simple, addressing growing capacity and coverage requirements. Thus the users' experience is consistent wherever they go and the indoor network evolves in lockstep with the outdoor network. Ericsson Radio Dot System 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 3GPP networks. 

There was a bit more detail available from a discussion in the Linkedin HetNet group here. My edited version of the discussion:

A related patent by E///, on how they may be transporting digital I&Q (essentially CPRI) between RadioDot and IRU by introducing APL.

<The layers, from top to bottom, are CPRI layer, Adaptive Physical Layer (APL) and the Ethernet Physical (PHY) layer....

APL is a newly introduced layer for adapting and packetizing the data from CPRI layer to comply with the 10GbE PHY data frame format... >

Based on my understanding, this is a standard Macro Cell with all functionality available from the day it is launched except that the PA+LNA+Filters+Antenna Panel (DOT) is extended remotely over Cat V cables. You can have multiple dots connected to a single cell based on the requirement as per DAS architecture. Now the Base Band Board and Radio Head may be centralized for the building. So this architecture may not really comply with C-RAN concept, so lots of features of C-RAN can't be supported with this. This is the very first step towards a centralized LTE DAS architecture for a big network. I think this is going to be a costly solution because of the architecture. One thing which is not known if this is based on SoC or the standard DSP FPGA based solution, because cost will be drastically low if it is based on SoC. Now it is interesting to see how the big carriers are taking this, since it is going to be launched in the second half od 2014, probably a very flexible hybrid DAS solution based on SOC will be available from many of the leading Small Cell Solution providers.

After my discussion with Ericsson executive, he explained the dots can be configured as different cells than the macro cell (in case the BBU is used for macro as well as indoor cells as posted in link to Ericsson document on page 11). 

I am very skeptical of this solution. It's a very nice marketing initiative - but I will be surprised if it achieves any serious market share. Mobile operators are mostly not capable of building the sort of networks that will require the dot - so deploying such a thing requires a change in mindset that is not easy to achieve. Secondly, the "dot" does nothing beyond what a $300 802.11n or 802.11ac Wi-Fi carrier class access point can deliver. And I'm sure $300 is not the Ericsson price for the dot. So I think the dot will find a very small market indeed. The much more interesting market is Wi-Fi offload at a fraction of the price. :-)

Embedded below is a presentation explaining the dot system:

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