Ruckus, Nokia Partner on Small Cell Technology

With Ruckus-powered technology integrated into Nokia's Flexi Zone solutions, service providers have available a purpose-built, small cell solution.

ruckus and nokia

Ruckus Wireless announced that its 802.11ac technology is being integrated into Nokia Networks' Flexi Zone small cell indoor and outdoor solutions.

The combined Ruckus Nokia Networks solution will be commercially available in the first half of 2015 from Nokia, and brings together, for the first time, cellular and Wi-Fi technology to enable operators to integrate small cells within their macro networks.

"Small cells are really a carrier thing for operators looking to inject as much capacity, licensed or unlicensed, into their network as fast and economically as possible," David Callisch, vice president of corporate marketing for Ruckus, told eWEEK. "For some companies, like hotels and stadiums, small cells represent a good way to offer both cellular and Wi-Fi services within a single, small and affordable footprint, without having to pay and deploy two separate networks."

The combination Ruckus-Nokia technology is engineered specifically for service providers looking to offload traffic from the macro network to an underlay network at a street and indoor level, both for individual subscribers and enterprises.

"Though we’re a ways off from being able to do this because of all the technicalities of how the small cell network would work with the macro cellular network and how the Wi-Fi network will talk to the cellular network, the industry is working feverishly fast to solve these issues," Callisch said.

He noted there really aren’t any huge security issues to be concerned about, as today’s Wi-Fi security is extremely sound, using sophisticated encryption, authentication and wireless intrusion prevention techniques.

Flexi Zone base stations combine long term evolution (LTE) or 3G and Wi-Fi into self-configuring units that provide coverage and capacity to underlay networks, both indoors and outdoors.

"While not a panacea for every potential security problem, Ruckus has developed some patented Wi-Fi security technology and techniques that enables our system to dynamically generate unique encryption keys to each client device that attaches to the network and to have those security key automatically installed, if the user wants, on the device with little or no human intervention," he said.

Small cells are short-range and low- power wireless base stations used to complement mobile phone service from larger macro cell towers."

Ruckus has had a long-standing global reseller agreement with Nokia Networks, Callisch said. "This small cell project, which we’ve been working on with them for nearly a year now, came about as a result of a number of service providers asking us both to address their desire for an integrated Wi-Fi and cellular solution that could allow them to more quickly deploy complementary technologies more cost effectively. So we did."

Small cell solutions can be used for both outdoor and indoor applications with a range of transmit (TX) power and user count capabilities.

"Consumers don’t really care what kind of network technology the phone uses to connect them. They just want the connection to be fast, reliable and affordable. WiFi fortunately delivers all three," Callisch said. "Cellular data provides great coverage over a huge area, but Wi-Fi is much better for indoor locations and higher speeds, where today’s cellular technologies really struggle. The combination of the two is lethal."