Top Promising Innovations – OneCell C-RAN Small Cells
Note: Last year, we unveiled our top 40 innovations made by CommScope or one of its acquired companies. This recognition was part of our 40th anniversary celebration. We are proud of all our innovations—past and present. Now, we look to new innovations that we hope will become the essential building blocks for the networks of the future. In a series of blogs, we will introduce you to our Top Promising Innovations in the world of wireless and fiber optics. We believe these innovations have the potential to have significant impact on the industry, much like some of the others from our past.
Definition: OneCell is CommScope’s unique indoor small cell solution, which utilizes a Cloud RAN (C-RAN) architecture to create a single cell across multiple radios for improved performance and simplified deployment.
Year of Innovation: 2014
What is the innovation that CommScope was first in creating?
The innovation in OneCell is using Cloud RAN (C-RAN) technology in small cells. Essentially, OneCell enables the deployment of multiple radios in a building with the simplicity of deploying a single small cell. It consists of a baseband controller and multiple radio points that form a single “super cell.”
Simple and economical to deploy, it is designed to service medium-sized to large buildings with high capacity and excellent performance. OneCell eliminates the need for subscribers’ devices to hand off from one small cell to the next as they move throughout a building, and the OneCell architecture eliminates inter-cell interference that is common in other small cell deployments.
OneCell goes a step further with cell virtualization, a ground-breaking technique for multiplying capacity by dynamically creating multiple virtual cells within the footprint of a single physical cell, without introducing interference.
What was happening in the market that this innovation was needed?
The increasing use of mobile phones as users’ primary communication devices inside buildings demanded more coverage and capacity inside buildings. Service providers and building owners could no longer rely on outdoor macro cell sites to extend signals inside buildings. In addition, mobile devices are increasingly used for data services, so additional capacity was needed inside buildings.
Traditional small cells aren’t a viable solution because they create many separate cells within a building, which interfere with each other and cause devices to hand off from cell to cell, degrading the user experience and reducing battery life. By creating a single cell across large areas, with no border interference and no handovers, OneCell eliminates typical small cell problems in a cost-effective manner.
How does this innovation benefit customers and the industry?
For mobile device users, OneCell provides a better experience by extending signal throughout a building and eliminating interference, which can reduce data throughput by up to 90%. It also helps extend battery life in mobile devices because they don’t need to constantly monitor multiple signals from different unique cells in the area.
For mobile operators, OneCell provides enhanced voice and data services to subscribers. The C-RAN architecture also simplifies the installation of a coverage solution because no interference mitigation engineering is required. It also conserves spectrum – instead of requiring unique spectrum for each of many small cells, it uses only enough spectrum to service a single small cell.
For corporate IT departments, OneCell uses standard Ethernet cabling and switches for a plug-and-play solution that is easy to install.
What makes this a promising innovation for future networks and customer applications?
OneCell satisfies the demand for more – and more ubiquitous – mobile services inside buildings. It will also support the coming Internet of Things (IoT) by connecting devices to the Internet via LTE. OneCell offers a simple and affordable means of providing this connectivity.
What are some of the early marketplace successes for this innovation?
OneCell is still in the early market adoption phase. Many mobile operators are now qualifying OneCell for use in their networks in advanced trials. Nex-Tech Wireless has deployed OneCell in the Fort Hays State University coliseum in Hays, Kansas. They have reported excellent performance results even under heavy load conditions.
What is the significance of the innovation for CommScope?
OneCell complements CommScope’s distributed antenna system (DAS) solutions, making the company a complete provider of in-building wireless solutions. No other vendor has as extensive a DAS and small cell portfolio. OneCell has proven its leadership in the small cell market by winning numerous industry awards including the GSMA’s 2015 Best Mobile Technology Breakthrough, and Outstanding Overall Mobile Technology–the CTO’s Choice, at Mobile World Congress and the 2016 Small Cell Technology Innovation Award from the Small Cell Forum.
Does this innovation follow any established industry standards, or do you believe it might set a precedent for its own?
One of OneCell’s benefits is that it doesn’t require the use of any new standards. It works with any existing LTE mobile device, and follows established industry standards for 4G cellular communications.
How do you see this innovation evolving?
Future versions of OneCell will increase system capacity and performance, track with 3GPP technical advances, and provide more efficiencies for multi-operator deployments.
About the Author
Markus Kalt is vice president of business operations for CommScope's Distributed Coverage and Capacity Solutions organization, responsible for the Small Cells team. Markus has more than 25 years of experience in the telecommunications industry, having worked in research and development, education, system engineering, product line management and business operations. He started as a system engineer for Andrew Corporation in 1992, taking on roles of greater responsibility for the distributed communication systems team. Other work experience includes stops at Brugg Telecom, Swisscontact (Indonesia), Contraves and Swissphone. Markus has a bachelor of science from Technical College Brugg and post-graduate education in business administration.