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BelAir tunes up new metrocell for LTE, Wi-Fi, 3G

Tue, 10/11/2011 - 9:20am
Mike Robuck

With no end in sight for the consumption of mobile capacity, BelAir Networks has dialed up a new metrocell that it said was the first to combine LTE, 3G and Wi-Fi in the small cell product space.

The BelAir2100 was desined to augment oparators' traditional macrocell networks with small cell technologies and Wi-Fi to cost-effectilvy handle the ever-increasing amount of mobile data in high-traffic areas.

The BelAir2100 Metrocell was designed to mitigate interference and enable full RF interoperability between the licensed band and Wi-Fi access radios, as well as between the metrocell and the macro network. It also features an all-IP backhaul and supports multiple tunneling protocols, enabling full mobility across networks. 

BelAir Networks CTO Stephen Rayment said the BelAir2100 was designed to complement the company's BelAir100SP Strand Picocell, but while the 100SP was designed for strand mounting, the 2100 can be attached to poles or the side of buildings to extend coverage. Rayment said the 2100 solved mounting, powering and backhaul issues, while also reducing opex and capex for service providers.

While the 2100 initially draws a bead on mobile operators, Rayment said it was also an attractive optioin for cable operators. In one scenario, cable operators could help relieve mobile congestion by providing backhaul circuits for 3G and 4G traffic, while another option was using the 2100 to extend mobility into other areas.

"What we're doing now with the 2100 Metrocell is if you're a mobile carrier that doesn't have strand, that has to mount on a lamppost or has to mount on the side of a building, that's what the 2100 is for," he said. "But it could also be for a cable operator that runs down the main street of the town with the strand-mounted unit, and then what we do with the 2100 is use wireless backhaul so we could wirelessly connect from the strand-mounted unit to the 2100 Metrocell, that might be three blocks away down a side street off of where the strand-mounted unit is deployed. So now you extend your coverage, extend your capacity, from the strand to other locations that still need to see service but don't have a cable strand anymore.

"We do that today where we've got our strand-mounted Wi-Fi unit, where the second radio on the strand-mounted Wi-Fi unit can be used as a backhaul radio. The 2100 does exactly that, only it adds in the cellular radio, as well as the unliscensed band, Wi-Fi radio."

On the cable operator side of its business, BelAir has deployed its Wi-Fi gear with Cablevision, Comcast and, last month, Time Warner Cable in Los Angeles.

"[Cable operators] aren't our first customers for the 2100, but I think once they see it, they'll see what they can do with it to add on to what they are already doing with the BelAir 100SP, which is the strand-mounted picocell. This will be a very nice extension of the network for carriers that deploy the 100SP," Rayment said. "They've got to start dealing with the pragmatics. It's so easy for the cable operators when they are deploying on the strand. It's their right away, and they have all of the assets that they need and do a very good job of deploying in that network and getting good performance. But there's always that last 10 percent or 20 percent, and that's where the 2100 Metrocell for the cable operators comes in."

Starting today, BelAir Networks is showing the BelAir2100 LTE/3G/Wi-Fi Metrocell at the CTIA Enterprise and Applications conference in San Diego.

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