SAN JOSE, Calif. ó Ericsson announced a base station radio the size of a smoke detector that aims to significantly lower costs of deploying indoor cellular networks. The Radio Dot System aims to disrupt one the fastest growing markets in wireless infrastructure pegged at $4 billion by 2018.
The Radio Dot is a simplified 3G/LTE antenna unit with an amplifier and power amp. It uses a proprietary Ericsson interface to connect over standard office Category 5/6/7 cables to an indoor base station that handles most of the signal processing.
Using the approach, a single base station linked to as many as 96 Radio Dots could cover a large office or hospital. By employing existing office LAN cabling rather than fibre optic cables, Ericsson claims the system can save up to 60 percent of cable costs and cut installation time by 70 percent.
The 300 gram Dots emit 100 milliwatts effective radiated power each to cover 500 to 800 meters with higher power versions in the works. They appear to the base station as one large cell and allow handovers between Dots for users moving inside a building.
The 300-grad Dot emits 100 milliW ERP to cover 500-800 meters.
Ulf Ewaldsson, Ericsson's chief technology officer, said in an interview with EE Times that when in LTE mode the system reduces interference in conventional indoor systems, saving carrier spectrum. For example, the system can use the LTE Release 10 Coordinated Multipoint feature to support data transfers using parallel transmissions from small and macro cells, expediting the delivery of large files such as a YouTube video.
Radio Dot has been in development for two years and is backed up by 14 patents, many of them on its cabled interface. "We think this will redefine the small cell space," said Ewaldsson.
Many small cells integrate radio and baseband functions. But that makes upgrades more expensive when baseband standards change, he added.