MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS, Barcelona, 27 February 2012 – Ruckus Wireless™ today announced SmartCell, the first heterogeneous small cell wireless edge system that lets operators easily inject wireless capacity, increase coverage and enable new edge services while relieving radio access, backhaul and core infrastructure bottlenecks created by the deluge of data traffic hitting their networks.
The fast uptake of mobile data services, driven by smartphones, laptops, and tablets, has accelerated data-traffic growth to the point where macro cellular networks are no longer sufficient to meet subscriber demand in many high-density settings. While the introduction of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology in the macro cellular network will provide partial relief, traffic volumes will continue to grow faster than operators can economically add capacity.
Ruckus SmartCell is the first in a new category of small cell systems designed to solve these problems by combining a multi-radio, multi-function access point, the SmartCell 8800, with the industry’s first small cell HetNet edge services platform, the SmartCell 200 gateway. The Ruckus SmartCell system lets operators easily enhance and extend their macro networks with smaller cellular networks that are an inseparable part of the mobile network infrastructure and built as part of an end-to-end solution.
With SmartCell, mobile operators can gain a capacity boost from LTE small cells, cutting costs and complexity by co-locating and combining them with Wi-Fi access points, sharing site-lease agreements and backhaul. The integration of Wi-Fi and LTE small cells within the cellular core also helps operators optimize network utilization across the radio access network, providing a further improvement in performance, and creating a seamless experience for their subscribers.
The Case for Small Cells
Small cells represent a new architectural approach, enabling mobile operators to bring wireless capacity closer to subscribers, both indoors and outdoors, helping to relieve the growing pains caused by more devices, more users and more concurrent wireless connections. In-Stat estimates that by 2015, worldwide shipments of small cell equipment will reach $14 billion with outdoor metrocell shipments realizing a compound annual growth rate of 248% over the next five years.
According to Peter Rysavy, president of Rysavy Research, “Small cells increase network capacity by reducing the number of subscribers per coverage area. Such small cells, however, can be problematic to deploy due to challenges such as providing backhaul. Any solution that helps overcome such challenges will ultimately benefit both operators and subscribers.”
“The telecom industry is going through major reconstruction as operators evaluate new network strategies to tackle the impact that the mobile Internet is having on their infrastructures,” said Selina Lo, president and CEO of Ruckus Wireless.
“It’s not about whether operators should deploy Wi-Fi or cellular within smaller cells, they need to do both. By putting small cells closer to the subscriber, operators can lower the cost of transporting each bit while boosting wireless capacity. Users will access the network at much higher data rates and be able to get on and off the network more quickly - utilizing less network capacity from a spectrum and time perspective. Our SmartCell is the first system of its kind designed with this in mind,” said Lo.
Optimized Site Acquisition and No Touch Integration with the Mobile Core
One of the primary problems operators face with small cell deployments is the costly and time-consuming process of site acquisition. By combining Wi-Fi, cellular and backhaul within a single, small form factor device, the SmartCell 8800 is an ideal solution for rapid deployment in dense urban environments where flexible power, mounting and backhaul options are crucial to realizing network coverage objectives.
The Ruckus SmartCell system also integrates seamlessly with existing mobile operator 3GPP and LTE macro infrastructures with no disruption using standard 3G and 4G core interfaces. Regardless of the access method (cellular or Wi-Fi) the SmartCell 200 gateway makes full use of existing core systems such as authentication, billing and service provisioning interfaces to deliver a radio access-agnostic and -transparent experience for subscribers.
Cost-Effective Wi-Fi Backhaul for Small Cell Traffic
With the introduction of a large number of small cells, new challenges emerge for backhauling traffic from potentially tens of thousands of locations – often making conventional point-to-point microwave, bonded copper, and fiber-based backhaul solutions impractical or uneconomical.
Ruckus SmartCell uses advanced self-organizing network (SON) principles to create resilient, high-speed Wi-Fi mesh backbone links between small cells. Proven in large-scale carrier deployments, Ruckus Smart Mesh technology offers a cost-effective, reliable and flexible alternative to conventional approaches.
Adaptive directional antennas (BeamFlex™) and predictive channel management (ChannelFly™) combined with Smart Mesh deliver reliable backhaul for licensed cellular and unlicensed Wi-Fi traffic in both line of sight and non-line of site environments.
No-Hassle Clientless Authentication and Connectivity
To improve the user experience, operators want to eliminate the hassle of installing special software on subscriber phones for authentication as well as simplifying the Wi-Fi connection process. Current I-WLAN integration requires client handsets to support technologies such as IPSec and IKEv2 for authentication. However very few of today’s smart mobile devices support this.
To simplify the authentication experience, the Ruckus SmartCell system employs a clientless approach using EAP methods with IEEE 802.1x port-based authentication. This eliminates installing any software on client devices. Clients simply connect to the wireless network using the preferred EAP method with underlying secure AES encryption. The network then handles the 802.1x authentication process and integrates into the mobile packet core in a secure and manageable manner.
Bringing a 3G-like user experience to Wi-Fi authentication and roaming, the Ruckus SmartCell system makes use of the new 802.11u protocol within the Wi-Fi alliance HotSpot 2.0 framework. With it, subscribers no longer must manually select Wi-Fi networks and enter security keys and credentials. 802.11u-capable devices query the network before authentication to determine the security method (e.g., EAP type), the credential type to use and if the Wi-Fi service is run by one of the operator’s roaming partners.
Specifically designed for service providers, SmartCell is a new line of small cell products that include:
- the SmartCell 8800, first multi-radio outdoor access node developed to integrate 3G/4G, Wi-Fi and backhaul into a single, lightweight, small-form factor and,
- the SmartCell 200, the first massively scalable small cell HetNet edge gateway capable of supporting hundreds of thousands of Ruckus or non-Ruckus APs and millions of clients as well as providing standards-based 3GPP integration into existing and future mobile core infrastructures.
Introducing SmartCell 200: The Ultimate Wireless Edge Services Platform
Situated at the edge of operators’ mobile networks, the SmartCell 200 represents the first in a new category of scalable and versatile edge service platforms that eliminate the difficulties operators are experiencing with building and managing large-scale small cell networks and integrating them into their mobile core.
Formerly known as the Ruckus Wireless Service Gateway (WSG), the SmartCell 200 is a highly integrated solution offering a huge collection of functions that transform the WSG into the first multi-function HetNet small cell gateway. This gives operators quicker, easier and more flexible deployment models that are much more economical relative to competitive solutions which require many different devices. In addition, the SmartCell topology allows operators to linearly scale their core capacity with growth, adding more SmartCell 200s to their network as client traffic rises and the network expands.
The SmartCell 200 integrates a unique collection of internally developed capabilities as well as technologies from the acquisition of two “best of breed” companies: IntelliNet and ComAbility. IntelliNet brings a number of advanced functions including I-WLAN-based PDG/TTG, femtocell gateway, as well as standard interfaces into the mobile core. ComAbility enables Ruckus to integrate subscriber and policy management and other carrier business services.
Within a 2U form factor, the Ruckus SmartCell 200 supports carrier Wi-Fi and small cell access and 3G/4G offload services not heretofore found in any single platform. These include packet data and tunnel termination gateway (PDG/TTG) functionality, wireless LAN management of Ruckus and multi-vendor APs, small cell gateway services, subscriber and policy management, and carrier class element management. The SmartCell 200 is designed to be a services platform for enabling value-added edge services such as location-based and content services, edge caching, deep packet inspection and advanced quality of service implementations.
To support existing Wi-Fi access points already deployed within operator environments, the SmartCell 200 functions as a vendor-agnostic Wi-Fi data gateway, giving operators a single interaction and enforcement point for subscriber management, policy enforcement and Wi-Fi billing services.
The SmartCell 200 provides true mobile data offload functionality across both the control and data planes. It supports multiple offload architecture options, including the standard 3GPP I-WLAN approach based on IPsec and IKEv2, as well as an innovative approach to PDG/TTG functionality based on 802.1x, GRE, and GTP (v1 and v2) as well as PMIP support.
Flexible deployment and data forwarding options include the use of PDG to locally break out non-essential traffic from the core to offload unnecessary processing as well as TTG functionality to transparently tunnel all traffic and signaling back to the 3GPP core.
The SmartCell 200 allows operators to use untrusted Wi-Fi networks (via I-WLAN) as well as trusted Wi-Fi networks to offload mobile data. The SmartCell 200 provides for transparent and secure authentication of both SIM-based and non SIM-based devices through a variety of client authentication methods including 802.1x EAP-SIM/AKA/TLS/TTLS, MAC address, and WISPr-based captive portal.
In carrier trials now, the SmartCell 200 Gateway can be clustered to provide unmatched linear scalability and resiliency, processing up to 20Gbps of throughput and managing up to 10,000 Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi access points for every 2U rack space.
Inject Capacity Today, Position for Tomorrow with the Ruckus SmartCell 8800
A completely new class of outdoor wireless product that integrates licensed and unlicensed band radio access technology, the Ruckus SmartCell 8800 was specifically developed to meet the capacity, density and siting challenges operators face in deploying heterogeneous networks within urban environments.
The SmartCell 8800 uniquely provides dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi along with an optional add-on module for Ruckus or third-party 3G/4G radios that share integrated power and backhaul. This gives operators the flexibility to deploy Wi-Fi with Smart Mesh backhaul today and upgrade to Wi-Fi with LTE when and where desired without any mounting or backhaul changes.
Integrated within the small, low-profile and lightweight form factor, patented Ruckus BeamFlex adaptive antenna technology enables the SmartCell 8800 to deliver longer range Wi-Fi and cellular signals, provide better signal penetration, maintain resilient mesh connections, and adapt to interference and changing environmental conditions.
The SmartCell 8800 is centrally provisioned and managed by the Ruckus SmartCell 200 gateway. Advanced carrier services include support for 802.11u, integrated GPS auto-location, smart meshing, predictive channel assignment and always-on WLAN spectrum monitoring. The SmartCell 8800 is available for trials immediately with general availability expected in the second half of this year.