Office-Fi or Branch-Fi — Is WiFi and Security issues important to you?

Most small office owners do not have deep technical expertise to develop a cyber-secure WiFi and security solution. WiFi Solution must ensure business traffic & data-security separation from Guest-traffic.

Extending wireless network to ensure good coverage throughout office space is also a problem.  4G/5G connection backup is useful to ensure WAN connectivity.  

Solution:

Mobilestack Inc offers secure wireless and cloud service to small business customers.

Managed Office-Fi Service for small business owners:

  • WiFi network equipment with traffic separation of business traffic from guest traffic and ensure business data security
  • Secure file-sharing services for employees to share information
  • Secure VPN service for remote access to business data
  • Setup of Cellular connection as WAN connection (when no landline is available) or backup of landline connection
  • Secure Cloud backup of business data with regulatory compliance for disaster recovery & remote access

Branch-Fi for branch-office and Restaurants:

  • Branch-Office WiFi setup and cloud-based operations
  • 4G WAN connection as backup to landline connection or 4G-WAN only connection with quick setup of Branch network and running within minutes
  • VPN-setup to Corporate Network for Business traffic
  • Customized Portal based Guest-WiFi with complete traffic separation
  • Data Security with shared file server
  • Data Backup to corporate / cloud backup sites
  • Mobile Branch network solution for field operations

AirBNB-Fi – for AirBNB Hosts:

  • Secure WiFi setup with separate Guest-WiFi access

Hotspot-Fi – for Mobile Hotspot:

  • Mobile hotspot setup on-demand for public-safety, field operations, buses, connected car, transport and logistics (can be powered with car battery)

Education-Fi for K-12 schools:

  • Secure WiFi network for exclusive school use separate from Guest / student WIFi
  • Guest WiFi with customized Portal
  • WiFi network extender in each classroom for good WiFi coverage
  • Secure File sharing service for school use

Pain-Point that are solved:

Office-Fi – for small business owners

Creating Secure virtual office wifi network and sensitive business/customer data protection is not an easy task. DIY option is overwhelming with cybersecurity risks. Many small office owners such as Realtors, Doctors, Dentists, fitness centers, CPA, Insurance agents face WiFi access and security problems such as:

  • What is the secure way of sharing your WiFi network with guests without security risk for your business? How to grow WiFi-network coverage as requirement grows?
  • How to setup secure file-sharing to ensure security of sensitive business/customer information with cloud-backup for disaster recovery?
  • How to setup VPN access to office data while you are on the road?

Hotspot-Fi – for Business Mobility & Hotspot:

  • How to setup a WiFi access from a vehicle with secure access to office files?
  • How to setup hotspot in a vehicle (such as Uber or tourist bus) to provide WiFi access to guests?

AirBNB-Fi – for AirBNB hosts:

  • For AirBNB hosts, guest WiFi access is required. Sharing your own password with guests is not a safe option. What if guest download illegal digital material for which owner becomes responsible?

Branch-Fi – for Branch-Office and Restaurant owners:

  • How to quickly setup branch office network to reduce time-to-business with secure WiFi access for employees, VPN setup to corporate network, Cellular WAN as backup to landline connection, traffic separation for guest WIFi traffic?

Business Case

Business value of security and connectivity is huge. DIY-solution to solve these problems is no longer feasible. With 2020 as a new decade of digitization with increased demands on connectivity and security, it is a good time for each business owner to make its own decision and use professional expertise best suited to your needs.

Business case is driven by many factors and, usually time is money for small business owners. Peace of mind on data security with periodic updates is becoming increasingly important. Yet, these problems are not unique to just your business. That’s why, using a fool-proof solution customer built for your industry vertical at affordable cost can be a good option to solve cybersecurity and connectivity problems.

Following factors should be used to evaluate risks and

  1. Piece of mind on CyberSecurity and data privacy
  2. Guest WiFi access – How to make it available in a secure manner
  3. How to expand WiFi
  4. Cloud backup with disaster recovery
  5. Remote access & Business mobility

Balancing WiFi connectivity with proper security protection of business data, services and traffic is important. Small business owners do not have deep pockets to tackle cyber-security issues.

In-Building Coverage

Executive Summary

Less than 5% of commercial buildings have In-Building Wireless (IBW) solution installation.  Without In-Building wireless installation, property managers, owners, and builders are missing an opportunity to increase profits through attracting modern, mobility-favoring tenants. The easiest way for a property to miss out on revenue is to lose tenants to turnover, or worse, not to get them in the first place. To get them in the door, your property must be well-maintained in your tenants’ eyes, and your operations staff must be able to work efficiently throughout your property to make this happen. These needs hinge on mobile connectivity, an area in which many properties are lacking. You already provide utilities (water, energy) and amenities (parking, workout facilities), but you may not be aware of In-Building Wireless, a compelling way to attract and retain tenants in our technology-centric era.

With 5G for IBW, new forward looking architecture and solutions are getting developed which will integrate/support emerging IoT applications and smart solutions better. So, IBW solution options must be evaluated with forward looking requirements and proper lifecycle management & tenant support that improves property values with improved customer experience.

Why In-Building wireless?

Poor cellular reception affects everyone. With the growing demand for faster speeds, degraded voice and media quality, increased demand IoT (Internet of Things) devices, having quality cellular service at all times is an absolute requirement for work efficiency and satisfaction:

  • Are people complaining about poor cellular coverage indoors?
  • Does it hamper workflow & productivity?
  • Are people getting near a window or going outside to make a call?
  • Are these liability issues (such as no signal in an elevator or stairwell)?
  • Use of cell-phone in poor indoor coverage has higher health affects as cell-phone has to work harder to transmit its signal to cell-tower

In a survey of business tenants, two-thirds claimed it would be a major challenge to survive without wireless connectivity. If a business is lacking coverage and can’t survive in their current workspace, they have two options: find a new space to lease or pressure the owner to fix the problem.

Market studies have exposed a driving need for improving In-Building Wireless(IBW) communications, noting that:

  • Mobile traffic has increased massively and will continue to grow
  • 80% of all data funneled to mobile devices is being consumed indoors, and
  • more than half of large U.S. offices have noticeably poor indoor cellular reception

Most properties are not exempt from the problem of poor IBW coverage. Three out of four enterprise tenants reported that employees had to move around the building or go outside to find good reception. With an IBW system, your tenants can be more productive (voice calls & email), more engaged (video collaboration & instant messaging), more efficient (building automation), more entertained (Netflix & Facebook), and safer (911 & public safety).

Poor wireless coverage can be extremely inefficient for building operations staff when they need to work in traditionally poor coverage spaces, like a basement, stairwell, or interior room.

Benefits of In-Building Wireless solution:

In-Building wireless (IBW) system is a growing solution for many businesses to improve their wireless communication infrastructure. It provides augmented & ubiquitous network coverage for all mobile devices. It remedies the causes & problems of poor In-Building cellular service. Whether in an urban or rural area, getting poor signal because of cell tower distance or building material, IBW systems provide constant, reliable network coverage with no interruption to work, entertainment, and/or emergencies.

IBW systems are scalable, able to serve small commercial buildings & SMBs (small medium businesses) to large venues such as stadiums, airports, and convention centers.

  • Better property values
  • Better reputation by customers (Starbucks-WiFi is known to attract more business) and competitors
  • Better efficiency – real-time control and monitoring. Enabled real-time smart building control and monitoring. Changes in building construction standards including more green building technology. AR/VR applications, better shopping experience, improved office work-flows, Real-time applications
  • More federal & local public safety requirements
  • BYOD & Multi-Tenant solution
  • Better Security & Surveillance – smart security cameras (face recognition)
  • Improved Voice and Media experience – better quality video & voice

Who is responsible for In-Building coverage?

Unfortunately, it is often unclear who exactly is responsible for improving indoor connectivity. Most building professionals place the responsibility on the mobile network operators to solve the problem, but in most cases, it is the property owner’s responsibility to deal with this issue.

For property owners, there are several common roadblocks to implementing an IBW system (1):

  • The cost of the network,
  • The complexity of the technology, and
  • A lack of skilled workers to manage the system

The Mobile Network Operator (MNO)

Mobile Network Operators, also known as wireless carriers (think Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile) have all paid substantial FCC license fees for exclusive access to and control of specific radio spectrum in a given geography. Because of this ownership, carriers require any IBW system to be approved and retransmission of their spectrum authorized prior to connection to their mobile network.

Obtaining this approval involves knowing the right carrier personnel and processes; therefore, when pursuing the implementation of a carrier-involved IBW system, it’s best to engage an experienced supplier with established MNO relationships.

One-MNO IBW Vs multi-MNO IBW installation is an important cost and strategic factor that needs to be decided by building owners. Multi-tenant buildings requiring BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) device support should consider multi-MNO indoor coverage solutions. Shopping malls, Airports, Stadiums, Hotels, Office buildings are good examples of such installations.

Whom to contact for IBW efforts?

There are multiple factors to consider in deciding whom to contact for IBW efforts. There is no one-size fits all IBW solution unfortunately.  Also IBW-solution should not be considered in isolation. It needs to be considered in broader context on “5G in Enterprise” strategy and planning.  With 5G, Enterprise is going to deal with Wireless in three broad dimensions:

  • Enterprise Mobility Strategy – Is it BYOD (bring your own device) or single carrier
  • Enterprise-IoT strategy – What IoT, AR/VR and real-time monitoring and control requirements do you have?
  • In-Building Wireless coverage – First step is to study relative signal strength of each Mobile Network in building and evaluate “gaps” based on what is needed Vs current status

Based on overall smart-building & 5G strategy for Enterprise/building-owner, IBW-solution must be developed. One-MNO or Multi-MNO IBW-solution is another consideration. Whenever BYOD needs to be supported, it is important to choose multi-MNO solution for IBW. Also, city regulatory requirements, especially public-safety requirements, must also be considered.

Based on vertical segments, considerations for IBW could be different:

  Vertical Vendor Relationship & Funding Model
1 Industrial Neutral-Host  / MNO / Private-LTE Vendor MNO-funding can be explored if MNO option is used as a vendor. Need to look at comprehensive IIoT solution with IBW as one component.

Enterprise-funded Neutral-Host for Multi-MNO solution or private-LTE vendor for CBRS or Multifire based Private-LTE+WiFi can be considered.

2 Ports, Airports, Sports & Convention Center MNO MNO may be interested in signing agreement in deploying MNO-paid IBW solution. Building owner must consider future IoT applications and IBW solution requirements as well.
3 Retail Neutral-Host Neutral-Host vendor should be asked to do assessment and then contact all MNOs for IBW solution support, relationship and funding.  Deployment can be best achieved as Managed-IBW Services agreement with Neutral-Host vendor. Must consider Smart IoT Apps, AR/VR together with IBW. Tenant Services and rules for additional wireless capability must be managed
4 Office-Building Neutral-Host One-MNO or Multi-MNO depending on single-tenant Vs multi-tenant criteria and Building Owner ROI can be considered; Rental value improvement with better IBW, Tenant Services and rules to manage RF-interference must be managed. Comprehensive plan of IoT applications requirements and IBW solution requirements must be considered.
5 Health-Care & Hospitals Neutral-Host Multi-MNO preferably. Funded by Enterprise with minimal expectation of funding by MNO. Deploy as managed-IBW services with multi-year contract and performance definitions.  Comprehensive plan for IoT-application requirements and IBW solution requirements must be considered.
6 Oil & Gas MNO + Neutral-Host Oil & Gas assets are typically geographically dispersed. Given this situation, MNO partnership is desirable for geographically distributed assets. For In-Building assets, it may be desirable to use private-LTE network or Neutral-Host solution. Comprehensive plan with proper consideration for IoT applications must be considered together with IBW solution effort.
7 Education Neutral-Host Large Universities (like NYU or Stanford) want to have good In-Building Wireless coverage along with good WiFi solution. Multi-MNO solution is desirable. Interest of MNO in these opportunities could vary. They may be interested in partial funding. Managed-IBW service model is desirable. Comprehensive plan for IoT applications and IBW solution must be considered instead of separate efforts.
8 Government Neutral-Host or MNOs For public safety, AT&T (FirstNet) will be used. It is likely that other MNOs may offer lucrative terms for IBW solution.  Some Govt business may consider Neutral-Host companies for managed services. Comprehensive plan must be created for IoT-applications, Mobility requirements and IBW solution
9 Defense Private-LTE and Neutral-Host A lot of defense bases are much like cities and require multi-MNO solution for personal traffic and private-LTE for official traffic. Comprehensive plan of IoT-applications and IBW solution requirements must be considered.
10 Transport, Logistics, Automobiles Multi-MNO, Relay, Neutral-Host Connected-Car is a very large business opportunity for every MNO. Each MNO wants “exclusive” relationship. However best option is to develop multi-MNO capability, preferably via Neutral-Host type services company

 IBW Coverage

 It’s important to understand where connectivity is needed within your property, since the entire building may not require coverage from all carriers. A simple assessment survey performed by a reputable integrator can give you an idea of the current baseline coverage your property receives from surrounding outdoor cell sites and what it would take to fill in any holes in coverage.

For Wi-Fi services, installation of equipment is relatively simple because the building owner has complete control of the system, meaning no outside approvals are necessary. However, complexity enters the equation when:

  • Each tenant provides their own Wi-Fi coverage— bringing poor signal quality due to RF interference, or
  • The property owner installs one shared Wi-Fi system—bringing complexity in creating secure, segmented, and controlled connections for each tenant.

Wireless Coverage Rating system (WCRS)

A standard way to rating indoor wireless coverage will help a lot in marketing and monetization of IBW investments.  As an example – WCRS-rating will help hotels in marketing the quality of their wireless coverage and attract more customers with potentially higher room rents.

 Steps for IBW deployment

Step-1:  IBW requirements assessment

How do you know if In-Building Wireless is a good fit for your building needs and what is needed to get this implemented?

As a first step of improving In-Building wireless coverage, building owner needs to perform “professional” In-Building Wireless coverage assessment.

New Building – For new-buildings, this step can be skipped and go directly to IBW planning effort.

Existing Buildings – First step is to hire a professional firm for In-Building assessment. There is no one-size fits all type of solution for In-Building Wireless services even in same vertical market.  A lot depends on location of building as well. In our view, every commercial building should be rated for In-Building coverage through some sort of a color-scheme per MNO. We provide this service to our customers at a very competitive price.  If Enterprise has multiple building in many cities, city-level planning for IBW-solution assessment is recommended. In-Building assessment should, also, cover recommendation for achieving good In-Building Coverage and cost estimate for different options.

Mobilestack offers IBW assessment services to building owners. Contact us for more details.

Step-2: IBW Solution Planning

New Building – For new buildings, this needs to be done as part of construction planning much like electricity plan is developed even if In-Building wireless solution is deployed much later. By doing it as part of construction planning, re-work after construction for In-Building wiring, power and cable installation cost is minimized making IBW-solution cheaper to deploy or/and scale.  Installation of In-Building data/optical fiber wiring after building construction is costly.  Comprehensive smart- building,  IoT application requirements, data cabling plan, Edge Solution requirements and IBW solution requirements must be considered as a roadmap. This will avoid any significant future re-work which may be costly to implement.

Existing Building – Detailed planning of IBW solution is needed including funding options, role of MNOs, performance expectations after deployed solution and pricing options for building owner. Also, planning proposal should include life-cycle management, rules for tenants to avoid RF-interference, upgrade options as new IoT applications are added by building owner.  MNO partial funding options and support must also be considered as part of this IBW solution planning.

Mobilestack offers IBW planning services to building owners. Contact us for more details.

Step-3:  IBW Build Phase

In this phase, In-Building Wireless solution is deployed as per approved IBW-plan in step-2 above.  Before Vs after IBW-deployment wireless coverage and customer experience impacts must be measured to ensure that IBW solution is meeting its objectives.  One important benefit of In-Building solution deployment is improvement in real-time application such as voice calls, video calls and, in future, AR/VR solution experience instead of just data-throughput benefit which is often used for measurements. Another important experience improvement parameter is better support for cellular connection density.  More device or people at one location or room should be able to use cellular services simultaneously. Again this KPI is often ignored by many vendors and must be counted.

Mobilestack offers IBW deployment and managed services to building owners. Contact us for more details.

Step-4: IBW Monitoring and Control

IBW solution is not build & forgets type of solution deployment.  Continuous monitoring and control of In-Building coverage & network-security must be followed.

Ongoing IBW network monitoring and management can come in several different ways. To gain MNO’s trust and confidence will be hard for building owner or its technical staff. Best option is to use managed services to continuously monitor and manage IBW solution. Alternatively, monitoring can be done by building owner and out-source control & management function as managed services preferably to same company who has deployed IBW solution.

Mobilestack offers IBW monitoring and managed services to building owners. Contact us for more details.

Step-5: IBW solution lifecycle management

IBW solution must be deployed in a way that it is easy to update, scale and modify. Future looking deployments that are compliant to newer technology and industry interfaces is better instead of adopting older IBW technology which will become obsolete quickly and affect future growth or value improvements. In Wireless industry, technology obsolescence rate is very high and new technology is developed every 6 to 8 years. Rate of evolution is going to become faster as IBW-solution becomes software-only solution using re-configurable future-proof hardware.

Upgrade path to adoption new technology faster should be important and provide better TCO in long-term. TCO considerations Vs future upgrade requirements must be in proper balance.

New innovative business models for lifecycle management and upgrades are developing for IBW-solution using newer technologies. This will make IBW-managed services offered at predictable monthly cost for a long period of time possible instead of cost + services pricing model.

Mobilestack offers IBW lifecycle and managed services to building owners. We take care of all hardware and software changes without any change in monthly cost. Contact us for more details.

IBW Solution Options

In-building wireless comes in a few different flavors, but the goal remains the same: wirelessly connect tenants, guests, and other building occupants to the network services and software applications that they want and need. Whether it’s in an apartment building, commercial office building, hotel, healthcare facility, school, mall, or public building, everyone now depends on reliable mobile connectivity where they work, live, learn, shop, and play.

Active DAS

Active DAS provides boosted 4G LTE cellular coverage for buildings. Active DAS works by directly connecting to carrier networks. Digital signal feed from operator is carried through fiber optic to maintain signal integrity regardless of cable run and coverage area.

Active DAS is best-in-class in terms of signal boosting and coverage range. Mobilestack can facilitate this connection management between operator and building owner. Since Mobile Operator wants control on digital feed that is provided for In-Building coverage instead of giving up control to building owner, Operators prefer a relationship with neutral host managed service provider.  Given Mobilestack’s domain expertise in RAN products and trusted relationship with Mobile Operator, we can offer IBW managed services to building owners and partner with Mobile Operator (MNO) for digital feed and its management by working closely with MNO’s RAN operational management team.

New digital feed interface standards are getting developed as part of industry-forum efforts. It is likely that Active-DAS could become cheaper in future as solution migrates to commodity future-proof hardware supporting Active-DAS as software-only solution working closely with MNO’s Base-Band processing unit (RAN-BBUs).

Passive DAS

Passive DAS is a signal amplifier or booster which picks-up weak signal from outside the building (preferably best location outside building) to amplify and distribute indoors as-is. This is a simple device and cost-effective option. For small buildings, this may be a reasonable option to consider. This solution is a single-MNO solution suitable for smaller capacity buildings.

However, for large buildings with future requirements of smart-building and IoT-applications or AR/VR support, this solution will not be a good fit.

Public Safety requirements can also be addressed using this kind of solution.

Cell Relay

Cell relay node (RN) concept was introduced in 3GPP release 10 to solve performance issues like the reduced data rate, the weaker signal and the higher interference encountered on the radio coverage edges by expending the covered zone and increasing the capacities of the radio coverage both indoor and outdoor at a lower cost. RN is connected to a macro eNodeB (basestation in LTE) called Donor eNodeB (DeNB) using a radio interface.  For a Donor eNB, the relay node appears as a UE. By creating its own coverage zone, the RN appears as a eNB to the UEs. LTE-A relay node, are designed to be low cost and lower power nodes which can be easily and quickly deployed when needed. If Mobile Operator supports RN-technology then this is a good choice to improve indoor coverage rapidly at lower cost.

This solution may work for boosting operator’s signal for public-safety applications and portable MNO-signal booster inside buildings.

New innovative solutions using cell-relay technology are getting developed for future use & installation in transport system, railways & autos to boost / convert MNO-signal and provide better coverage to passengers.

Small Cell

Enterprise small cell can be deployed to achieve high capacity as well as expand coverage, enabling the voice and data solutions that businesses rely on. The enterprise cell is LTE-enabled and ideal for mid-sized locations. It is effective in hotspots with crowds of people such as shopping malls and especially enterprise. Indoor coverage and capacity expansions are simplified by our Small Cells’ ‘plug & play’ design.

Small cell technology is evolving rapidly with 5G. If carriers can agree on sharing a common base station and/or neutral spectrum, there’s potential for massive growth.

IBW for Public Safety

In an emergency event, fire fighters, police, and paramedics require access to a public safety wireless network and this access requirement does not stop at your building’s front door.

Through adoption or amendments of national or international Fire Codes, many jurisdictions require public safety IBW assessments and/or mandate that In-Building emergency responder Radio Enhancement Systems (RES) be installed in select new or renovated buildings as a prequalification to a certificate of occupancy.

Commercial real estate professionals need to make sure their architect or general contractor considers the need for RES. The building owner is responsible for the RES cost and can contact a wireless systems integrator to guide them through the process.

Managed MNO Services for Enterprise

Enterprise relationship with MNO is not always a smooth experience despite best effort of MNO and Enterprise to make this marriage successful.  So, what are the best option to make this marriage work. Use a marriage counselor – introducing Managed MNO Services for Enterprise. Instead of trying DIY option with costly mistakes and pain-points for MNOs as well as Enterprise productivity, Enterprise is better off hiring Managed MNO Services as part of in-house expertise & knowledge to use best practices of working with MNOs for Mobile connectivity Solution using Plan, Build and Operate model to ensure best result.

Mobile Enterprise is becoming business critical. Enterprise is adopting Mobile & Cellular technology in many different ways.  Mobile office is becoming essential part of every enterprise and Enterprise-IT is looking for best ways to maintain security with high-level of connectivity to ensure business agility and productivity. The de facto method of connectivity has become Wireless Connectivity.

In many cases, Wireless connectivity is added as part of Enterprise Products and Services. Next generation of products are adding wireless connectivity to solve customer pain-points such as product maintenance or develop new services that are important for business growth.

Yet, wireless connectivity solution is not easy. Enterprise faces many cellular connectivity issues. Some use-cases of Enterprise Cellular Connectivity issues are captured in my article / blog titled – Ten steps of adding LTE to a Wearable. Some of the Enterprise Cellular connectivity issues are as follows:

  • Device on-boarding for cellular connectivity as different MNOs have different device on-boarding processes
  • Device-activation issues (and associated customer returns)
  • How to maintain Enterprise Security for traffic going across MNO
  • Avoid dependence of one MNO and ability to use multiple MNO options
  • Optimize roaming cost
  • Subscription Management to adapt to local country or region
  • Deal with MNOs based on device location country / area of installation / usage
  • Fraud, Misuse of cellular connection, High unexplained subscriber traffic
  • Direct connection from Enterprise to MNO
  • AI, Analytics
  • MNO relationship management

Alot of these issues are beyond the scope of what a single MNO can solve and Enterprise often do not have the skills to manage it on their own. Most MNOs want exclusive relationship with an Enterprise which is not the most cost effective solution for Enterprise. So how to bridge this enterprise to mobile network gap to make everyone happy? 

Best option to bridge the Enterprise to MNO gap is to use Managed MNO Services to manage Enterprise to MNO relationships. Many industry verticals require special solutions which are not available from MNOs to best match their cellular connectivity requirements. For example- eSIM technology was created by Telematics Industry (as a whole) partnering with GSMA to solve MNO-mobility issues as vehicles change ownership or country of usage.

Mobilestack Inc offers Managed MNO Services for Enterprise to build Cellular connectivity solution that is the best fit for Enterprise and implemented with smoother operational efficiency. These services are offered as flexible build-to-suit package for Enterprise Requirements.  Please contact Mobilestack Inc for more details about managed MNO services or email directly to pgupta at Mobilestack dot com.

Ten steps of adding LTE to a Wearable?

Adding LTE to a Wearable is not as easy as adding Bluetooth to a Wearable. Mobilestack Inc has deep experience in adding cellular technology to a Wearable and launching it in a carrier network. In this article, I want to outline steps for adding LTE / CAT-M / NB-IoT or legacy 2G / 3G wireless technology to a Wearable.

Adding a cellular modem to a wearable is a very different wireless design lifecycle Vs Bluetooth integration into Wearable. In a way, Cellular Modem enabled Wearable is a completely separate category of device Vs Bluetooth enabled device. Bluetooth enabled Wearable design is limited to hardware and software engineering effort to make it work with smartphone application that is optimized to reduce battery consumption as much as possible without compromising on user experience. WiFi connectivity solution is little more complex Vs Bluetooth because of new WiFi-6 design for IoT devices or WiFi AP-setting for wearable device. Still, this is not as complex as adding cellular connectivity solution to a wearable.

Adding LTE to Wearable has many product dimensions and life-cycle steps. Steps involved from idea to launch for adding LTE to a Wearable device are as follows:

Step-1: Product Requirements Definition:

Requirements definition needs to capture answer of following questions:

What is the main business objective of adding LTE to Wearables? What if LTE / CAT-M / NB-IoT coverage is not available at a given location – Is there a need to support 3G/2G as fallback option? Target market? Engage with mobile operators in target market for Wearable support and develop business case for operator support and technical requirements. New device features such as device management requirements, SIM Vs eSIM, Firmware update, Device security, Supply chain impacts, Number sharing, Voice Support, Text Message support are good examples of device requirements that must be considered.

Mobilestack Inc is very familiar with details of device requirements and pros/cons of different features that must be planned for IoT device development.

Step-2: Wireless Technology Choices

Based on device requirements, Wireless Technology choices must be made.

Band support:- Which RF bands are supported by target device. It is not feasible to add all RF bands and device OEM may be required to pick and choose. This choice will define the global footprint in which OEM device will potentially work. In other areas (not supported by RF-bands of Wearable), only Bluetooth or WiFi will work and Cellular modem has to be disabled.

Wireless Technology Choice – There are few options to be considered: LTE-Only, LTE/3G/2G, CAT-M Only, CAT-M / NB-IoT, CAT-M / 3G, NB-IOT/3G, CAT-M/NB-IoT/3G etc.

SIM technology and form-factor choice – One major decision is SIM Vs eSIM. How about SIM-Swap support? What SIM form-factor is best suited – such as Industrial grade embedded, Commercial-grade Embedded SIM or Removable SIM?

Mobilestack Inc has deep expertise in wireless technology choices and we can help customers in this step.

Step-3: Planning

Detailed planning is needed including discussion with all stakeholders- Sales, Supply Chain, Vendors, Mobile Operators as Partners, Engineering, Product Management and Operational teams that will be involved in any new wireless device development, launch, sales and operational processes. New testing and device activation work-flows have to be worked out to create expectation alignment of all stakeholders.

Mobilestack Inc can help customers in planning this project to ensure the success and eliminate cost-overrun due to bad planning.

Step-4: Supply Chain impact and Vendor Selection

By adding Cellular Wireless connectivity, new vendors for wireless module and SIM-card are added as part of supply chain. Also, operator certified Wireless Module + SIM-card must be tested (on operator network or stand-alone) before it is added to a target device. Since most of this supply chain process is done off-shore, there are challenges in achieving smooth process for this step.

There are ways to solve this issue and Mobilestack Inc can help.

Step-5: Product Design

This has two components i.e. Hardware design and software design

Hardware design – Main design considerations are: Antenna Placement, Battery Power Management, Wireless Module integration, SIM-card placement, Battery capacity augmentation

Software design – Power management, always best connected Solution switching between Bluetooth and Cellular, One number solution for Voice, messaging services, Firmware update (FOTA), Device Activation / change in ownership aspects, eSIM / SIM-Management aspects, future-proofing of solution to enable eSIM later-on, User Interface impacts.

Customer experience should be painless and simple for using and activating wearable device. Usability factor will drive customer adoption. Bad usability or complex device activation process will create customer returns of a good working device. This should be considered as key performance indicator of device success among others.

Mobilestack Inc has deep expertise in Wireless Design and Engineering services.

Step-6: Development

Execute on Wireless design identified in step-5 above. Development should use agile development process with measurable progress and DevOps development model for frequent integration testing.

Mobilestack Inc offers cost-effective Wireless Connectivity Design and Development Services to achieve faster time-to-market for our customers.

Step-7: Testing

System level testing must be done after development is completed with focus on automation as much as possible. Also, field testing must be included as part of this testing in which device is tested at multiple different locations with specific focus on edge cases such as roaming (specially new device activation in roaming), coverage edge of 4G and 3G etc. Mobile Operator resources can be used for field device testing.

Mobilestack Inc has expertise in creating test-plans (or advice customers on test-planning) and actual testing of wireless devices.

Step-8: Device Certification

In this step, device is submitted to different device certification centers that are approved by Mobile Operators including any in-house device testing by Mobile Operator. Not all operators require in-house device certification testing. So, as part of device planning step, Device certification plan must be developed and executed as part of this step. Before device launch, as part of pre-launch testing, Mobile Operator requires test-devices in large number for internal testing by different stakeholders including network operation team and regional / nation-side device sales and marketing channels.

Step-9: Device On-boarding process

For launch, Operator defined device on-boarding process must be followed. This includes submission of millions of manufactured devices identity (IMEI) and SIM-card identity (ICCID) details of devices (going on future sale) to Operator for proper provisioning or device on-boarding. It is best to integrate this process as part of supply chain of Device Manufacturing process. In the case of e-SIM based development, this process will be slightly different.

Mobilestack Inc can help navigate this process for our customers.

Step-10: Launch

Congratulations for reaching on the finish-line. First few days of launch should be spent in a device launch war room to help operators and all different sales channel trouble-shooting and support. This is the most rewarding phase of project and smooth launch will help elevate device OEMs image in the marketplace.

After a month of launch, Device OEM can do a project post-mortem analysis to identify lessons learnt during this journey for future improvements. Smooth device launch and good customer reviews help in building Device OEM’s brand equity. All efforts must be made to make launch successful in a timely manner specially around Nov-Dec timeframe when alot of OEMs are trying to launch their device and Mobile Operators are always very busy.

Contact us

Please reach out to contact at Mobilestack.com for any feedback, comments or questions. Fill up the contact form.

5G business opportunity for Cable Industry

After Verizon launch of 5G Home Connect product, Cable Industry has come under direct competition in their monopolistic ISP market of providing internet services to Home and small businesses. Cable industry needs to create their own 5G product roadmap to counter MNO threat of taking over in-building internet services business.

Mobile Operator’s interest in Home Connect solution is not new. Back in 2G days, Mobile Operators has deployed wireless local loop solution to offer in-building telephony services. Now, with access to mid-band and high-band frequencies and new technology of MIMO and beam-forming, Mobile Operators have the opportunity to offer in-building ISP services and integrate in-building wireless solution as part of their broader out-door network and grow their network coverage in-building. Value-added edge services can be created after substantial foot-print of in-door home-connect customer base is created. Without Cable industry investments, Mobile Operators are all set to eat Cable industry’s lunch and make them disappear or redundant. It is kind of do or die situation for Cable Industry.

5G is a wake-up call and golden opportunity for Cable Industry to “finally” create a business growth opportunity which is much more than acting as a simple ISP with flat ARPU. 5G is a transformation technology for in-building services and applications.

Smart Building

Every building can have multi-MNO neutral-host and private 5G network deployment build on 5G network architecture principles of virtualization, Hardware-software separation, Network-slicing to ensure low cost in-building solution development and operational models.

Smart In-building structures is one of three main pillers of 5G infrastructure (refer my article on 5G). Cable Industry needs to take proactive and bold steps to invest in this opportunity.

In-Building Network Standardization

In-door Wireless coverage is becoming critical services much like electricity and water. Without good wireless network coverage, it is hard for building owner to find tenants. Wireless Network availability inside building requires considerable planning, design and deployment in the same way as plumbing or electrical design planning is done for in-building services. There is a need for “network design” engineers to create in-building wireless and network implementation plan and this needs to become part of building code and green building initiatives.

Conclusion

Mobilestack Inc has the expertise to help Cable Industry in development of 5G product roadmap and development of in-building network standardization efforts. We invite industry stakeholders to connect with Mobilestack Inc and make in-bulding 5G deployment work for Cable Industry advantage and offer new revenue-generating services that are much needed for in-bulding 5G network deployment. Failure to execute on this opportunity is not an option.

5G in India – Need to create new Public Private Partnership Projects

5G race has already started. There is talk of USA vs Pacific (China / Japan / S. Korea) competition for this race. Where does India stand in this race?

India wants to lead in 5G race and created a regulatory policy framework to encourage investments. Is this enough to lead in 5G race? What other initiatives can be started to help lead in 5G race? In recent budget, 5G research funding was approved. This funding is used to buy 5G equipment as “import” vs self-reliance initiatives to build 5G infrastructure. In this article, I present few ideas to help India in 5G race outlined below:

R&D effort

Research and Development (including 240 Crores available) should be used to make India self-reliant. This money should be used as “seed capital” of IITs working closely with industry (or startups via open proposal mechanisms) to create sel-reliance in 5G infrastructure equipment development. Focus should be in development of new research and development initiative that can be commertialized in 2-3 years max with large private operator sponsorship and interest to deploy Indian 5G Equipment. Actively participate in ensuring that projects are successful.

Pubic Private Partnership

Several key Public Private Partnership (PPP) 5G infrastructure initiatives can be created to help in Indian 5G race. Examples are:

Fiber in the ground

Indian Government invest in building national-wide fiber and IP-network which can be offered to private partners and operators at very low cost with equal, fair, easy access rules without much bureaucracy involved in getting access. This can be called as “building strategic national asset initiative”. Some of this nation-wide IP-network capacity can also be used for defense, public-safety, rural, Smart City and Government IP-network requirements.

Street Furniture access

Create fair and equal access rule to Government and street assets that encourage network sharing. Creating separate street furniture access for each operator is not a scale-able and economically feasible option. So, fair and equitable rules for shared site access of street furniture managed by Govt / state / city administration at break-even cost is needed.

Three pillers of 5G

Create regulatory policy and private-public partnership for deployment of following three pillers of 5G infrastructure building blocks:

  • Smart Building

    Every building can have multi-MNO neutral-host and private 5G network deployment build on 5G network architecture principles of virtualization, Hardware-software separation, Network-slicing to ensure low cost in-building solution development and operational models.

  • Smart City

    – 5G plays a key role in building Smart City Infrastructure. Develop new regulatory policies with new investments in Retail, Roads, Utiliities, Public-safety and city-level applications that can be replicated across many cities in a consistent manner.

  • Smart Transport

    Railways and Roads 5G deployment and operational models must be developed with an objective of 5-year execution plan using Public-Private Partnership investment models. Every car and public vehicle can deploy a 5G hotspot or relay devices for public / private network access, connected car applications and eventually autonomous applications as a long term plan.

Conclusion

These three 5G deployment pillers with Public Private Partnership will create $1.4 trillian dollar GDP growth that is projected from 5G investments. Without concrete action plan for 5G investments to create GDP growth, this potential will not be achieved.

Indian policy makers have a choice today. Create an execution plan for 5G growth and investment OR miss out on the 5G race.

Mobilestack Inc can help build these policy initiatives for broader public good. Please contact us if needed to help develop 5G execution strategy for India.

5G Products from Mobilestack Inc

Mobilestack 5G Products using future-proof Hardware

Introduction

Future Proof 5G products are needed to reduce network cost with faster upgradability.  Hardware-Software separation provides cost efficient 4G/5G Network Equipment cost model that is desperately needed to reduce “total cost of ownership” for deploying 4G / 5G service. Mobilestack Inc provide 5G RAN software running on future-proof radio-network hardware.

RAN Hardware – Software separation

Given that MNOs margins are getting squeezed, Mobilestack wants to give complete ownership and independence to MNOs for RAN Hardware that is based on open hardware standards similar to “Open Compute Project” from facebook which help reduce cost of datacenter hardware by 50%. As of now, XRAN is considered to be the main focus for OPEN-RAN strategy.  However, I doubt that XRAN option is a good one because same vendor solution at BBU (RAN Base-Band Unit)  and RRU (RAN Remote UNIT) will always perform better.  No incumbent RAN vendors (such as Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei and other) want to give-up control on RAN-HW. If MNOs want to change the direction of this industry then they need to spend in new RAN startups like Mobilestack who are committed to support this architecture as part of their core mission and product strategy.

In my view, it is time to place bets on RAN Hardware Neutrality.  If we fail to adopt this strategy in 5G then it may be too late to do it in the future.  Mobilestack is not a hardware company, but we are willing to work with MNOs as a consultant to help them define this future and build open RAN HW ecosystem.

Small Cell 

Small cell is a major part of Network densification.  50% to 70% of small cell CAPEX is in “installation”. As number of small cells grows to millions in a network deployment, small cell hardware replacement is simply not an option.  This is the problem that we need to solve. The solution is to use future proof small cell “commodity” hardware that allows in-field upgrade from 4G to 5G. Commodity HW is the key differentiator here to create a very low cost small cell solution.

Use of future-proof hardware for small cell is business critical. Given that small cell is going to be deployed in millions of locations, hardware replacement cost will be huge and roll-out of new features requiring hardware upgrade will be extremely slow.

Relay Cell

5G relay cells are going to be deployed much like Verizon 5G service today which provide WiFi / 4G LTE inside the building or as local network and use 5G link to the macro / micro / small cell as backhaul.

Use of commodity RAN HW is business critical for this use-case as well. Today, Verizon has used “proprietary HW” with a critical need to upgrade when 3GPP compliant 5G Relay cell is available. Now, consider huge cost of this hardware replacement for Verizon which can be avoided if future-proof Relay-Cell hardware is used with customer replaceable parts for custom hardware if required.

Private LTE Network

Private LTE network create local private LTE network which can be used in many different vertical market use-cases in which “network delay and network coverage” is a huge consideration such as Hospitals, Hotels, Convention centers, Airports, Ports, Industrial complex or Oil & Gas markets.

Again, in these markets, use of commodity hardware and being able to use same hardware for future wireless upgrades will reduce “total cost of ownership” and encourage adoption. Mobilestack Inc is targeting these markets and invite customers to engage with us for trial / PoC demos.

Critical LTE Network

In recent CA fires and other natural disasters such as Puerto Rico,  restoration of Wireless Network is “mission critical” for public safety services and rescue operations.  Every second counts in these restoration efforts to provide help where it is needed and identify / locate people that need help.

This best option in these situations is to provide a portable LTE-solution that can be mounted on public safety vehicles / backpacks (such as fire trucks, Ambulances, FEMA resources) that can be connected to serve any operator's mobile phone / SIM-card.

Mobilestack Inc has developed a portable 3G/LTE-network solution (future upgradable to support 5G as well) to serve these critical needs. We invite customers to contact us for a trial / PoC demo.

Mobilestack Products

MobileStack Product Chart

Mobilestack Inc is creating 5G Products with focus on Hardware-Software separation and use commodity hardware to build 5G products and services. With main focus on Hardware-Software separation is the core differentiation for Mobilestack 5G products.

Customers from many vertical markets can leverage Mobilestack Inc products. We invite customer to contact us for details of our products and services with a trial, PoC as a start.

Demo Architecture

Our demo setup architecture is described in a diagram below:

 

Figure – Demo-Setup

Current Mobilestack Inc effort and prototype demo is available on YouTube at:

This demo proves feasibility of creating a future-proof radio-network solution. Instead of PC, for higher capacity requirements, Open Compute Platform (OCP) hardware can be used to run multiple instances of BBU. Intel is also creating Network Edge Virtualization (NEV) platform which is also a candidate hardware platform of higher capacity vBBU solution.