Virtualized networks for Seamless Indoor Coverage needs of Enterprises
The opportunities promised by the digital economy and digitization are pushing the Indian enterprises to adopt new means towards these goals. They have begun extensively using many collaboration tools, advanced positioning services, and mobile apps.
Digitisation and the high-speed internet have opened up overseas markets for all Indian enterprises – large, medium or Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Being connected to the global network through internet and telecommunication services not only gives domestic companies access to newer markets, but they also open up a new revenue stream for many of these enterprises, especially, the SMEs.
Moving their operations on digital platforms have also helped these companies increase their operational efficiency, cut cost and better address customer needs.
However, to be able to leverage this digital boom, enterprises need reliable and robust information and communication technology infrastructure, especially, one which supports indoor coverage needs enterprises. Most verticals of enterprises operate in indoor environments, and seamless connectivity becomes key for the successful adoption of a fully digitized and digital system. Any gaps in the indoor coverage may lead to poor results not in sync with the cost and effort in moving to a digital platform.
Unfortunately, though, network gaps and poor quality indoor coverage are more a norm today in the country than an exception despite the use of mobile broadband growing in leaps and bounds. Materials like concrete, glass and steel block transmission of signals making it difficult for indoor services to be seamless. A report released by Small Cell Forum confirms this as it suggests that as many as 61% of enterprises have poor indoor coverage.
Thinking beyond Wi-Fi
What does the enterprise segment look for in a network? They want a network solution which is easy to install, cost-effective and yet provides superior indoor coverage. However, in the light of the fact that most enterprises in India face weak indoor coverage, service providers must come up with solutions to address this challenge.
Wi-Fi is commonly considered to be the answer to the problem of indoor coverage, as it is both efficient and cheap. However, an enterprise needs to have inbuilt Wi-Fi capabilities to provide connectivity to visitors and offload data. These are easier said than done and often it has been seen that Wi-Fi services are not capable of fulfilling the growing demand of enterprises.
Therefore, there is a need for service providers to think beyond Wi-Fi for fulfilling enterprises’ need for indoor coverage.
Small is beautiful
Small cells, which are short-range mobile base-stations integrating with the bigger towers, can be used as an alternative to Wi-Fi. However, the high cost of small cells has been an impediment to these becoming more popular option for indoor services. Besides, installing small cells are not as easy as Wi-Fi routers.
However, things are changing with innovations in the recent years have now made deployment of small cells easier and cost-effective. Besides virtualization technology makes it easier and profitable for enterprises to integrate with the macro network.
Aggregation capabilities virtualized on HetNet Gateway makes network scalable and flexible enabling seamless transmission of signals between the two networks. This gives the users best-in-class quality of experience from the indoor network.
HetNet Gateway works on the principles of Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), and Software Defined Networking (SDN). This allows it to provide easily scalable and reliable indoor connectivity, bringing down the complexity of deployment and maintenance at the same time.
Given the enormity of communications within an enterprise, it may be using a variety of network services like femto, small cell, Wi-Fi, and security. To allow data to flow from one network to another, they require networking hardware to patch through these movements. Virtualization enables this gateway hardware to be managed on one platform as Virtualized Network Functions. This does away with the need for maintaining different boxes for each gateway, making it easier to control the network functions and hence bringing down the cost.
Virtualized networks make it easier for enterprises to scale up and launch newer services and products. Features like auto-configuration, self-optimization, and traffic mitigation capabilities further improve network performance.
Virtualized gateways enable the enterprises to use different technology networks for voice service. For example, an enterprise can use the existing 3G or 4G network to provide voice or can also go for Voice over LTE (VoLTE) or Voice over Wi-Fi (VoWiFI) and thus can bring down the cost, reduce call drops and improve overall voice quality.
The same concept can be used by an enterprise to connect with more devices under the Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) products, making it more efficient and helping in increasing its revenue. With over hundred smart city projects coming up in the country, virtualization will be vital in building networks of enterprises compatible with a number of them.
With existing indoor coverage techniques being less reliable than the growing needs of enterprises, a system based on virtualized networks can work wonders to enhance quality and performance and to bring down the cost and complexity of the networks.
Director - APJC and Russia CIS Business Development, Parallel Wireless