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Ericsson Continues to Advance Hetnet Strategy

Hetnets have become a key theme for Ericsson, among other wireless vendors. Fresh off of announcing plans to buy BelAir Networks, Ericsson, at Mobile World Congress (News - Alert) this week in Barcelona, unveiled a new pico base station. Both the new product and the acquisition are Ericsson efforts to bring the heterogeneous (the het in hetnet) networks known as cellular and Wi-Fi more closely together, Mikael Back, Ericsson AB vice president, tells TMCnet.

The multi-standard RBS with integrated Wi-Fi access is part of Ericsson’s RBS 6000 portfolio, which includes products ranging from pico to macro. These products are designed to help network operators add capacity with a relatively small footprint and, thus, real estate requirement, and deliver what Ericsson says are two to 10 times the throughput gains using half the spectrum of competing solutions.

Because the pico radio base station has integrated Wi-Fi, that makes it easier for service providers to add small cells to the network using both licensed and unlicensed spectrum – and to backhaul traffic from both over shared facilities.

Meanwhile, Back says that Ericsson’s move to purchase BelAir (for an undisclosed amount) also will let its service provider customers more easily integrate Wi-Fi and their cellular services. BelAir sells indoor and outdoor Wi-Fi systems that are in use by such service providers as AT&T and Comcast (News - Alert).

“Ericsson will lead the way in the growing converged Wi-Fi and cellular market where improved end user experience is the driving force. By integrating BelAir Networks' market-leading products and competence into Ericsson's existing radio portfolio, we will be able to do this more quickly. We welcome 120 highly skilled people into the company,” said Hans Vestberg (News - Alert), CEO of Ericsson, in announcing the deal last week.

In other Ericsson news at Mobile World Congress this week, the company is running a voice over LTE (News - Alert) demonstration. Back says he expects the first U.S. carrier launches of VoLTE to take place in 2013, noting it will take time for industry players to ensure this service meets the high user expectations and regulatory requirements around voice.

Ericsson this week also joined forces with Western Union in an effort to accelerate interconnection between the m-commerce ecosystem and financial entities. The telecom equipment outfit also used Mobile World Congress as a platform to discuss its recent acquisition of Telcordia and a refresher on the Akamai (News - Alert) partnership it announced at last year’s show.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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