Study Finds Major Cost Advantages in New Enterprise LTE Wireless Approach

Analysis finds Cloud RAN small cells save 69% of costs vs. DAS

Airvana, a leading provider of small cell solutions, and Real Wireless, independent expert advisors in wireless technology, today announced a study revealing that a Cloud RAN small cell solution can reduce costs by 69%, compared to traditional distributed antenna system (DAS) solutions.

The Real Wireless study concluded that Cloud RAN (or C-RAN) Small Cells were less expensive in all scenarios considered, including multi-operator deployments where DAS has previously been considered superior to small cells.  The study examined the use of C-RAN LTE small cells as an alternative to LTE DAS in both upgrades of existing DAS and in new “greenfield” DAS deployments.   Both large and small building deployments were analyzed, and both active and passive DAS.

The full white paper, exploring the analysis and results in detail, is available at:

Cloud RAN (C-RAN) architecture achieves performance and economic benefits by centralizing “baseband” and scheduling functions– the core processing by which the system allocates wireless resources among users and services.  Airvana’s OneCell, which recently won the GSMA’s Best Mobile Technology Breakthrough award at Mobile World Congress 2015, was used as the basis of the comparison to DAS.  It uses a C-RAN architecture and goes even further by tightly coordinating the LTE access points throughout a building to behave as a single cell, eliminating interference and handovers. As such, C-RAN small cells share many of the positive attributes of DAS that have been the preferred indoor wireless solution for large enterprises and public spaces. Due to its high costs, however, DAS is practical for use in only a tiny fraction of enterprise buildings.

Real Wireless was commissioned to conduct the study due to their extensive experience in real-world in-building wireless solutions. The study authors have been responsible for the design and installation of hundreds of in-building systems. As a result Real Wireless was able to take a holistic view of a rollout. Not only were equipment costs taken into account, but also related costs such as cable materials, installation labor, project management, design and recurring operating expenses – in all over 90 line items for each scenario.

Professor Simon Saunders, Real Wireless director of technology, led the study team. “While we have long seen the potential for enterprise small cells, this is the first time a definitive cost comparison has been conducted. Significant savings are encountered even for multi-operator situations and smaller buildings, heralding potentially explosive growth on the tiny (<2%) penetration of dedicated wireless solutions in office buildings to date.”

The analysis found that many of the savings of the OneCell C-RAN approach derive from its simplified “Wi-Fi-like” deployment model, using standard Ethernet LANs for in-building distribution rather than fiber/coax cabling and remote radio heads.  This approach generated significant savings in solution design, cabling materials, installation labor, and project management. It also improved ongoing flexibility to add and redistribute capacity in response to changes in user demand.

“The realization that enterprises were under-served by legacy solutions motivated us to develop OneCell,” said Richard Lowe, president and CEO, Airvana. “The rigorous analysis by Real Wireless confirms the value of C-RAN small cells. OneCell will make quality indoor LTE service affordable to a much broader enterprise segment.”

RCR Editorial Webinar: Investing in Heterogeneous Networks – 22 April 2015

RCR WirelessEvent: Investing in Heterogeneous Networks: Network Planning, Optimization and ROI
Date: 22nd April 2015, 7-8pm BST
Venue: Webinar – registration required
What:  Carriers are planning their investments in HetNets carefully as they balance the need for more coverage and capacity. Investments must be made to satisfy current network demands while anticipating future developments. The return on these investments may depend on the extent to which carriers can monetize HetNet investments by offering new location-based services to subscribers.
What you will learn:
What are carrier priorities for HetNet investment this year? Which technologies (i.e. CPRI interface, LTE-U) are impacting investment decisions?
Who should attend:
Network operations professionals, service provider purchasing decision makers, executives from vendors supplying service providers with DAS, small cell and Wi-Fi equipment and connectivity solutions.
Prof. Simon Saunders, Director of Technology, Real Wireless
Scott Sumner, VP Solutions Development and Marketing, Accedian
Michael Wolfe, N. American director of technical sales, Wireless, CommScope


Calculating the future: UK spectrum usage and demand

Today saw the launch of the first in a series of reports on UK Spectrum Usage and Demand from the UK Spectrum Policy Forum, at an event in London.

UK Spectrum Usage and Demand considers the spectrum needs of different sectors, and the social and economic contributions which they are able to make based on their spectrum usage. It reflects the contradictory priorities different industries hold – including space, utilities, business radio, meteorology and mobile – with a view to fostering open discussion and mutual understanding, in order to deliver maximum benefit from the UK’s spectrum assets.

For the report, Real Wireless was commissioned to provide a snapshot of current spectrum usage for the report, as well as calculating the expected long-term future needs of the major users of spectrum in the UK.

Last year Real Wireless became a funding partner and Steering Board member for the fledgling Spectrum Policy Forum. I act as voluntary chair of the Forum’s Cluster 1, examining spectrum applications and demand.

The reason for this is simple. Spectrum is a scarce resource, one that needs proper management and support if the country is to enjoy the benefits – a recent estimate valued spectrum as contributing £52 Billion per year to the UK economy. The UK Spectrum Strategy published a year ago set a target to double this contribution by 2025. Therefore, an independent, industry-led government sounding board such as the UK Spectrum Policy Forum is crucial to making the most of this asset – and Real Wireless is proud to support this vital work.

In today’s report, we found that there are multiple industries with conflicting spectrum requirements and only careful forward planning and a high level of mutual understanding will avoid future clashes.

After all, these industries rightly consider their work as important, and Real Wireless has long been an advocate for enabling the use of wireless technologies in a way which bridges the gap between the wireless industry and business, personal and public sector usage of wireless.

What’s crucial therefore is to plan ahead and spot conflicts before they occur, taking all needs into account in future policy debates to maximise the social and economic benefits from spectrum in the long-term.

A later edition of the report will include further sectors and lead the way to the specific work items which will allow progress on these areas – watch this space!

Today’s report from Real Wireless and the UK Spectrum Policy Forum, UK Spectrum Usage and Demand, is available to download here.

Spectrum Policy Forum Launches Report on UK Spectrum Usage and Demand

  • Research by Real Wireless demonstrates need for cooperation across multiple industries to maximise spectrum benefits
  • First in a series of reports looking at cross-industry spectrum requirements in the medium-long term

26 March 2015: The UK Spectrum Policy Forum, the industry-led sounding board to Government and Ofcom, has today launched the first in a series of reports on UK Spectrum Usage and Demand. Based on research from independent experts Real Wireless and drawing on the inputs of a panel of contributors for each sector, the report includes views on the importance of spectrum as a national resource from the space, utilities, business radio, meteorology and mobile industries. It can be downloaded from here.

UK Spectrum Usage and Demand sets out the spectrum needs of different sectors in relation to their contributions to social and economic value. As such, the report reflects the sometimes contradictory priorities from different industries, with the aim of fostering open discussion and mutual understanding.

Raj Sivalingam, Executive Director of the UK Spectrum Policy Forum commented: “Spectrum is a hugely valuable, but limited, resource. The potential social and economic benefits are enormous, so it is important we fully understand future demand across multiple industries. Through extensive engagement we will be able to identify the spectrum pinch points, which will guide the future work of UK Spectrum Policy Forum, to inform future policy debates and maximise social and economic benefits from spectrum in the long-term.”

The key sector trends identified by the Real Wireless report are:

  • Public Mobile: increasing data consumption will put pressure on spectrum allocations, and change how spectrum is used by the sector.
  • Utilities: the move toward ‘smart’ utilities will drive a move away from reliance on wireless, toward a combination of networks that can provide the necessary security and resilience.
  • Business Radio: demand for always-on connectivity and increasing data usage are driving the move to digital radio. The nature of these communications requires a high level of resilience, and for some users this translates into a desire for dedicated spectrum bands in mission-critical scenarios.
  • Space: a growth area for the UK, this sector needs to preserve and secure existing spectrum holdings and seek expansion opportunities to maintain innovation and investment.

Professor Simon Saunders, Director of Technology at Real Wireless said: “Real Wireless was commissioned to provide a snapshot of current spectrum usage and expected long-term future needs of the major users of spectrum in the UK. The report identifies the business and societal activities that depend on spectrum and associated drivers of value. We found that there are multiple industries with sometimes conflicting requirements, so the work of the Spectrum Policy Forum is of vital importance if UK industries are to get the most from wireless services. At Real Wireless we work to bridge that gap between the users of wireless and the suppliers of wireless services.”

Today’s report marks the first anniversary of publication of the UK Spectrum Strategy, which was announced by Prime Minister David Cameron at CEBIT 2014. A second edition of the report is planned for later this year, to cover Defence, Short-range devices & Wi-Fi, Broadcasting, Amateur Radio, Fixed Wireless Access and Transportation.

About the UK Spectrum Policy Forum

UK Spectrum Policy Forum is the industry-led sounding board to Government and Ofcom on future spectrum management and regulatory policy with a view to maximising the benefits of spectrum for the UK. The main objective of the Forum is to enable the policy and regulatory environment for maximising access to spectrum through cross-industry leadership and exploring ‘over the horizon’ issues in spectrum-using applications.

The UK Spectrum Policy Forum is supported by techUK.

About techUK

techUK represents the companies and technologies that are defining today the world that we will live in tomorrow. More than 850 companies are members of techUK. Collectively they employ approximately 700,000 people, about half of all tech sector jobs in the UK. These companies range from leading FTSE 100 companies to new innovative start-ups. The majority of our members are small and medium sized businesses.

techUK is committed to helping its members grow, by:

  • Developing markets
  • Developing relationships and networks
  • Reducing business costs
  • Reducing business risks.

About Real Wireless

Real Wireless is the pre-eminent independent expert advisor in wireless technology, strategy & regulation worldwide. It bridges the technical and commercial gap between the wireless industry (operators, vendors and regulators) and users of wireless (venues, transportation, retail and the public sector) – indeed any organization which is serious about getting the best from wireless to the benefit of their business.

Real Wireless demystifies wireless and helps its customers get the best from it, by understanding business needs and using its deep knowledge of wireless technology to create an effective wireless strategy, business plan, implementation plan and management process.

Its experts have worked at senior levels in vendors, operators, regulators and academia, with expertise in radio propagation, international spectrum regulation, wireless infrastructures and many other areas with specific experience in LTE, LTE-A, 5G, UMTS, HSPA, Wi-Fi, WiMAX, DAB, DTT, GSM, TETRA, PMR, PMSE, IoT/M2M, Bluetooth, Zigbee, small cells, radio, core and transport networks.

Real Wireless customers include Ofcom, Wembley Stadium, Transport for London, BAA, The European Commission, Virgin Media, Amdocs, iBwave, major network operators and many more.