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Cisco and NSN meet at the Wi-Fi/cellular border

Cisco unveils first 3G base station and HetNet management software, NSN adds Smart Wi-Fi to mobile platforms


Published: 26 February, 2013


One debate that will no longer be raging at Mobile World Congress will be the Wi-Fi versus femtocell 'war' of past years. Virtually every operator accepts they will, over time, use a combination of Wi-Fi and 3G/4G small cells and eventually integrate them completely, first with a common core and finally at base station level. That means that vendors from both sides are meeting in the middle, so while Cisco will unveil its promised 3G small cell, together with Quantum network management tools, .Nokia Siemens is launching Smart Wi-Fi, to integrate the two access types seamlessly.

Last year NSN presented its FlexiZone architecture for mixed Wi-Fi and 3GPP small cells, and eventually a fully integrated HetNet. Now it is adding Smart Wi-Fi, which consists of four elements to help carriers manage their various access points as a single pool of capacity.

"Nearly all smartphones and tablets have the ability to use Wi-Fi. Operators have a clear opportunity to use this mature, cost effective technology to enhance the experience of mobile broadband, especially in underserved indoor public areas", said Randy Cox, head of small cell product management at NSN.

The four elements of the new platform are Smart Wi-Fi Connect, Converge, Optimize and Personalize.

Smart Wi-Fi Connect provides access points and gateways for operators to plan and deploy their own WLans, as well as tools to analyze, plan, deploy, integrate and optimize the operator's own or a partner's Wi-Fi networks.

Smart Wi-Fi Converge allows Wi-Fi to be integrated into the existing packet core and suppots device provisioning and subscriber authentication for seamless subscriber access to Wi-Fi. There are also features to manage security, billing and policy control and to deliver cellular services over Wi-Fi.

The third component, Optimize, introduces traffic steering capabilities based on Wi-Fi traffic loading. Operators are able to decide when to switch subscribers between Wi-Fi and cellular depending on traffic levels, helping to make QoS more predictable.

Finally, Personalize includes the recently introduced Customer Experience Management on Demand for Wi-Fi. This gives cellcos subscriber level visibility and allows them to target subscriber segments to provide promotional Wi-Fi sign-up campaigns and/or automatic Wi-Fi provisioning.

Over at Cisco, the company is also launching tools for managing combined mobile and Wi-Fi networks, and has announced Vodafone's Dutch unit as a first public customer for the new Quantum platform. This range includes the Quantum Network Abstraction Suite, which creates a real time network abstraction layer for network data collection, aggregation and orchestration to support network decision processes.

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