WiFi hotspots transition to small cells in mobile broadband networks

Telecom Lead Europe: According to Strategy Analytics,
WiFi hotspots will become small cells in mobile broadband networks by 2015.

Strategy Analytics has identified six levels of WiFi
integration requirements and analyzed solutions from seven leading vendors.

The vendors included in Strategy Analytics study, WiFi
Offload – Roadmap to Seamless Mobile Interoperability,” include Alcatel Lucent,
BelAir Networks, Ericsson, Cisco Systems, Greenpacket, iPass, Kineto Wireless,
and Nokia Siemens Networks.

According to the research agency, WiFi has transitioned
from a useful unlicensed wireless option for -offloading’ excess mobile video
traffic to an intelligent, managed network where subscribers can roam securely.

WiFi is about to become a seamless interoperable element
of mobile networking,” said Sue Rudd, director, Service Provider Analysis.
WiFi hotspots will soon act as a new type of small cell, integrated with
macrocells in heterogeneous networks, i.e., HetNets.” HetNets with integrated
WiFi could significantly lower the cost per gigabyte of new mobile broadband

The trend towards WiFi integration was visible at the
recently held Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, with infrastructure vendors
realigning their products to integrate high performance WiFi into the ‘All IP’
mobile network.

Recently, Alcatel Lucent added WiFi to its lightRadio
portfolio; Ericsson acquired BelAir Networks to increase its carrier grade WiFi
options; The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) announced the successful
completion of Next Generation Hotspot (NGH) trials; and Cisco unveiled the
industry’s first standards-based ‘Small Cell’ for NGH.

In order to complement mobile coverage and provide extra
capacity, mobile operators have been deploying public WiFi hotspots for several
years,” said Phil Kendall, director, Wireless Operator Strategies at Strategy

Now operators can give mobile broadband users an
enhanced Quality of Experience” with automatic roaming to WiFi. In a few
years, as LTE is further deployed, these users will be able to roam
seamlessly – and even use both networks simultaneously at 100 Mbps,” Kendall

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