The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is the place to be if you want to know what is going on in the mobile wireless world. This week — from the mobile wallet to the power of big data, the future of voice, mobile health solutions, the connected car, M2M business models and wearable mobile devices — a broad range of wireless will be discussed. But small cells will steal more than their share of the spotlight.
What’s hot at MWC this year:
• OEMs and vendors of small cells are claiming this to be the year of small cells. To wit, there is even a session with that name with AT&T, Alcatel-Lucent and SpiderCloud as panelists.
• Component orders for small cell hardware are up, significantly. Freescale says that it has shipped “very significant” volumes for small cells this year.
• The year of software enhancements for small cell deployments is at hand. Juniper Networks is showing its expanded software-defined networking portfolio. The expansion includes its Junos Fusion software, NorthStar Controller, Junos Video Focus, Junos Subscriber Aware, Junos Application Aware and Junos Policy Control products – all to support small cell platforms. Alcatel-Lucent announced plans, on this first day, to produce a range of virtualized mobile network function applications, including an evolved packet core, IP multimedia subsystem and radio access network, with plans to extend those services to a cloud architecture.
• Network Virtualization Function (NVF) is showing up in more and more places. NFV platforms are a key building block in enabling network operators to deploy flexible, high-performance, energy-efficient network architectures based on a consistent software platform. BroadCom announced its Open Network Function Virtualization (NFV) platform. This platform is designed to accelerate NFV adoption by allowing implementation of applications across multiple system-on-a-chip (SoC) processor solutions based on diverse Instruction Set Architectures (ISA).
Using BroadCom’s Open NFV platform, the proof of concept demonstration of a live virtual functions (VF) state migration between multiple ISAs has been approved by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute NFV Industry Specification Group.
Such direction paves the way for network functions being virtualization, with software being using to control hardware deployment both within and across networks.
Other hot topics at MWC include:
• Carrier aggregation (CA) LTE. The push for adoption of CA-enabled LTE equipment is seen as a significant process to alleviate the piecemeal use of separate swaths of spectrum in order to serve an insatiable consumer appetite for mobile data services.
• Voice Over LTE. Coming closer to enabling roaming within and across HetNets and easing the bandwidth crunch on all frequencies, current and potential.
• Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN) debuted new small cell solutions in its Flexi Zone line, its newest small cell models that support TDD-LTE and additional frequency bands and Wi-Fi. The company claims the NSN Flexi Zone indoor pico base station is the “only indoor small cell with the same capacity and running the same software as a macro base station” while offering easier indoor connection options and higher capacity than a DAS.
No doubt the week will bring countless additional technology offerings, hardware, agreements, announcements, demonstrations, and other wonderful tidbit from the world of wireless.
— Ernest Worthman, Executive Editor, Small Cells magazine