Cisco Expands Small Cells Efforts With Partner, Operator Program

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Print this article Print
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The networking vendor's Small Cell Enterprise Select hooks up channel partners with mobile operators to speed delivery to enterprises.

Cisco Systems is introducing a new program designed to make it easier for partners and mobile service providers to more quickly bring small cells technology to enterprises.

Cisco's new Small Cell Enterprise Select is designed to bring together third-party channel partners that already have been selling Cisco indoor WiFi technology offerings to end users with mobile network operators that are looking for new services for enterprises, according to officials with the giant networking vendor.

"We're approaching the small cell market in a new and unique way that will keep costs down while allowing deployments to scale, creating the environment needed for enterprise small cells to cross the adoption curve chasm," Ed Change, vice president of Cisco's Small Cell Technology Group, said in a statement. "Cisco and our partners have the radio frequency expertise, enterprise relationships, and the self-organizing network technology mobile operators need to quickly and easily deploy small cells indoors."

Small cells are seen as a way of helping businesses handle the growing challenges of in-building mobile Internet connectivity and an increasingly mobile workforce by improving the speed and capacity of the wireless network. The concerns will only come into sharper focus with the growing expansion of LTE 4G wireless and the looming move to 5G on the horizon.

In addition, Internet traffic will increasingly become more mobile, according to numbers from Cisco's Visual Networking Index. Only 4 percent of global business traffic was mobile in 2013, though that will grow to 14 percent by 2018.

Infonetics Research analysts see a growing small cells market. An expected ramp in sales did not happen last year, with revenue hitting $771 million and shipments—most of 3G-enabled devices—climbing 143 percent over 2012, at 642,000 shipments. However, 4G small cell devices will starting climbing this year, and the analysts expect revenues to jump to $1.3 billion—a 65 percent increase—in 2014.

"The need to enhance existing saturated macrocellular networks that are struggling to maintain a decent mobile broadband experience, as well as to add capacity to existing LTE networks, is bringing some fuel to our forecast," Richard Webb, directing analyst for mobile backhaul and small cells at Infonetics, said in a statement in April.

Developed countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Japan and South Korea, are driving early adoption of small cells, the analysts said.

Through its Small Enterprise Select program, Cisco's channel partners will be certified to collaborate with mobile operators to sell and deploy in-building 3G and LTE services. Cisco officials said the move will result in faster delivery of small cells to enterprises. For mobile operators, the program will enable them to work with Cisco's larger channel partners to reach end users that they would not be able to on their own, and at a lower operational cost.

The program will leverage Cisco's small cells technology, including the Quantum Self-Optimizing Network (SON) capabilities in Cisco's Evolved Services Platform, which offer dynamic adjustments between local small cells and macro-cellular networks. In addition, Cisco's Universal Small Cells (UCS) use existing power, real estate and backhaul from enterprise WiFi networks via the vendor's UCS 7000 stand-alone access points or the UCS 5000 Series plug-ins for Cisco's Aironet 3600 and 3700 WiFi access points.

Originally published on www.eweek.com.