Top Promising Innovations – ION-E Unified Wireless Infrastructure

With 80 percent of mobile connections being made inside buildings but only about two percent of the world’s commercial space being covered from the inside, something needs to change. That change needs to meet coverage and capacity demands quickly and cost-effectively. With a promising new innovation—the ION-E solution—help is on the way. Designed around IT-based structured cabling architecture, it is friendly to both wireless operators and business enterprises. Van Hanson explains this innovation in this blog.

Top Promising Innovation_Ion-eNote: 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.

ION-E Unified Wireless Infrastructure

Definition: The ION-E platform is a unified wireless infrastructure that leverages Ethernet cabling and frequency-agnostic remote antenna units to deliver a future-proof, easily-installed solution to address in-building wireless coverage and capacity issues.

Year of Innovation: 2014

What is the innovation that CommScope was first in creating?

The ION-E unified wireless infrastructure platform is designed around IT-based structured cabling architecture, making it friendly to both wireless operators and business enterprises alike. The flexibility, scalability and simplicity of the system resolve the issues associated with rapidly-changing indoor coverage and capacity demands.

The ION-E platform brings together licensed wireless and power plus Gigabit Ethernet for Wi-Fi into one unified wireless network that can scale to building size and is technology- and spectrum-adaptive. Unlike other offerings, the ION-E infrastructure features multi-band, multi-operator and multi-technology capabilities and uses the standard IT structured cabling infrastructure common to most commercial buildings (Ethernet). The ION-E platform incorporates a frequency-agnostic remote antenna unit (RAU) design, which allows operators, enterprises and building owners to deploy one system that supports all frequency bands.

What was happening in the market that this innovation was needed?

Eighty percent of the world’s buildings have indoor wireless coverage issues, but just a tiny fraction of them have in-building cellular wireless solutions. Distributed antenna systems have been available for more than 20 years, but most operators and enterprises have chosen not to deploy them because they are complex, require heavy coaxial cabling that takes special expertise to install, and have to be physically upgraded to support additional frequency bands. The ION-E platform addresses these issues by using standard Ethernet cabling to link the system’s hubs with its RAUs, and the RAUs are frequency-agnostic so they support additional frequencies without the need for new equipment.

How does this innovation benefit customers and the industry?

The ION-E platform makes a unified wireless infrastructure easily deployable to solve in-building wireless coverage and capacity issues. Its use of standard Ethernet cabling makes it much easier and more cost-effective to deploy, and its frequency-agnostic RAUs allow operators and enterprises to install the system once and then support future frequency bands without expensive upgrades.

What makes this a promising innovation for future networks and customer applications?

New cellular frequencies come into use every few years, and they typically require customers to upgrade their DAS with new RAUs – an expensive and disruptive proposition. By using RAUs that can be tuned to different frequencies, the ION-E platform eliminates the need to upgrade RAUs and thereby reduces total cost of ownership.

What are some of the early marketplace successes for this innovation?

The ION-E platform has attracted deployments in the United States and Europe as well as Australia. Operators like that it is easy to deploy with less technical expertise required, and enterprises like that they don’t have to hire outside experts to deploy it, but can rely on their IT staff.

What is the significance of this innovation for CommScope?

The ION-E platform continues CommScope’s wireless infrastructure leadership by integrating CAT-6A cabling and Ethernet infrastructure with a DAS, and by offering a future-proof, frequency-agnostic unified wireless infrastructure. Because CAT-6A cabling is pervasive, most buildings are “wired for wireless,” and the ION-E digital architecture ensures high-uniform output power at every RAU.

Does this innovation follow any established industry standards or do you believe it might set a precedent for its own?

The ION-E platform leads the market when it comes to frequency-agnostic technology for unified wireless infrastructure. It is compatible with all applicable cellular technology standards.

How do you see this innovation evolving?

The ION-E platform allows for future development, enabling a truly agnostic offering that can expand as bandwidth needs expand. It uses digital signal processing to extract and transmit individual channels, so users can send a channel to one or more of the RAUs. By enabling users to transmit only the exact spectrum required to each RAU, the ION-E platform conserves spectrum, which is an increasingly important capability for cellular systems.