Cisco Systems introduced a set of small cells for retail and public spaces, a router that can connect those cells and a multi-purpose software suite, called Quantum, which all together enable advertisers to get ads to consumers on the go.

The notion of pushing ads that are relevant to mobile consumers is tantalizing, but doing so requires systems that can: a) precisely determine the positions of consumers; b) collect, analyze and forward consumer location information; and c) do it all in real time.

Cisco says that though the system is pinned on mobile users, any service provider can take advantage of the opportunity.

Referring to small cell technology, Satish Iyer, lead of service provider mobility marketing at Cisco, said: “The reason small is so interesting is that the closer you get to the user, the more real-time data is available; you can tell what store in the mall they are in – you can tell what aisle they’re in. It’s the small cell that provides those nuggets.”

That information is as usable by cable operators as by mobile operators, Iyer pointed out. Further, cable has a strong position in the market by virtue of where its physical network is.

“There are three barriers to this,” he said. “Real estate – the poles, power and backhaul. Cable operators already have all of those assets. That’s why we have a solution that hangs off the cable network.”

AT&T has tested out the system and was able to pinpoint the location of consumers within 1 meter, Iyer said. Shaw is another among the first companies to test the system out; Shaw will be demonstrating the system along with Cisco at the Mobile World Congress.

While mobile targeted advertising might have the most potential for additional monetization of a service provider’s network, the software is far more flexible than that. Cisco also announced that Vodafone Netherlands is using the Quantum software suite initially to offer tiered broadband access services with flexible quota and application-level usage controls to its enterprise customers.

Vodafone has installed the BNG Service Manager, combined with the vendor’s Intelligent Services Gateway and Quantum. The carrier-grade policy, charging and customer data management and analytics solution enables Vodafone Netherlands to deploy network- and application-aware policies in line with its enterprise broadband business model, Cisco said.

The new software is a combination of elements, some developed by Cisco, others culled from acquisitions including Broadhop and Intucell, Iyer said.

The resulting suite, called Cisco Quantum, includes the following elements:

  • The Quantum Network Abstraction Suite, which provides a real-time network abstraction layer for network data collection, aggregation and orchestration to augment available information in all-network decision processes.
  • The Quantum Policy Suite, a policy management solution that enables service providers to scale, control, monetize and personalize any service on any type of network through a flexible, interactive architecture that supports application-centric policy capabilities.
  • The Quantum Analytics Suite provides business and network analytics capabilities that enable both historical and real-time predictive policy decisions. It includes dashboards for data visualization and programmable interfaces to create system alerts in conjunction with policy.
  • The Quantum Wide Area Network (WAN) Orchestration Suite, which provides network management tools to simplify capacity and traffic management, increase network efficiency, and reduce operational costs for service providers, particularly in IP/MPLS (Internet Protocol/Multiprotocol Label Switching) environments.

The software is designed to handle data captured and forwarded by a set of 3G and Wi-Fi small cells.

These include:

  • The 3G Small Cell Module for Aironet Access Points. It is Wi-Fi-compatible and integrates licensed and unlicensed small cells with a plug-in 3G radio.
  • The 3G Small Cell, which expands Cisco’s product line for enterprises.
  • The ASR 901S, which is designed to enable wide-scale deployment of outdoor small cells by extending carrier-class small-cell routing to the outdoor installation pole to break the backhaul bottleneck.