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ip.access Makes Small Cell News, Offers Perspective on MWC Trends

Small cells are getting big attention at this week’s Mobile World Congress (News - Alert) in Barcelona, Spain. Among the companies making gains in this arena is ip.access. This week ip.access announced two new customers; its first LTE (News - Alert) small cell solution; and a partnership with active distributed antennae system provider TE Connectivity.

Zain Bahrain of the Middle East, and multiple European networks under the Telenor (News - Alert) Group umbrella, will be deploying 3G small cell solutions from ip.access. The vendor just last month announced the formation of a partnership with E-Pay International to deliver small cell solutions to operator customers in the Middle East. And ip.access reports it has installed more than 500,000 3G public and private small cells in more than 60 networks to date. The company says that makes it the world leader on this front.

Also at Mobile World Congress, ip.access was showing its new LTE small scale cell, called the E-100. This is the company’s first solution leveraging technology from Freescale (News - Alert). The E-100, which has an optional Wi-Fi module, is slated for general availability in early 2013.

Andy Tiller, the senior vice president of product strategy and marketing at ip.access, tells TMCnet that there’s a move afoot in the industry to make Wi-Fi carrier quality.

“This is a huge trend at the show,” he says.

Everybody from Alcatel-Lucent to Cisco to Nokia Siemens Networks (News - Alert) to Ruckus is working this issue, he adds. The goal, he explains, is to enable cellular service providers to integrate 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi at the base station and have common control, security, management and optimization capabilities for all of the above.

But carriers and their suppliers need to decide on how to address authentication so end customers don’t have to log in to Wi-Fi whenever they want connectivity; how to do security (and there are a wealth of standards from which they can choose, he says); and how to approach core network integration so carriers can still see customers once they have moved onto Wi-Fi.   

Of course, carriers like AT&T already are using Wi-Fi to offload traffic from their cellular networks, he says. The problem is that once the customers are offloaded, those customers are often beyond the carriers’ bailiwick.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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