Intelligently Switching Between Wi-Fi and Cellular Depending on Traffic Load
Published on: 21st May 2013
By: David Ng
Ericsson says that it has developed a series of Wi Fi connectivity tools that ensure smartphone users are only automatically connected to a Wi Fi hotspot when it can offer a faster download speed than the wider cellular network.
There are occasions when a phone hops onto the Wi-Fi hotspot, only for the download speed to reduce as the hotspot is carrying more traffic than the 3G/4G cellular networks at the time.
To ensure users always get the best connection, Ericsson announced its 3GPP compliant Wi-Fi network access, control and management solutions.
Daryl Schoolar, Principal Analyst, Network Infrastructure at Ovum, said: "Ericsson has clearly differentiated its carrier Wi-Fi solution through tighter integration with mobile operator's 3GPP access, control and network management. This approach should yield a better end-user experience by preventing some of Wi-Fi's well-known bad habits from being imposed upon users."
Key to the user experience is an Ericsson industry-first feature that automatically selects the best connection: real-time traffic steering. Ericsson's real-time traffic steering is a software upgrade that constantly assesses key performance indicators in both the mobile 3GPP network and the Wi-Fi network before dynamically and seamlessly shifting the consumer's smartphone connection between networks. This ensures the best user experience and optimizes network resources. Real-time traffic steering is a network-driven feature requiring no user intervention or additional device software. Ericsson also now supports access selection, a self-optimizing network (SON) feature enabling load-balancing between Wi-Fi and 3GPP networks to optimize the average user experience.
Thomas Noren, Vice President and Head of Product Area Radio, Ericsson, says: "Heterogeneous network strategies among leading mobile operators are focused on delivering a great mobile broadband experience to their customers, wherever they are. By coordinating licensed small cells with the macro cell, as we announced earlier this year, and intelligently integrating Wi-Fi and 3GPP throughout the network, we're providing operators with the most effective way to deliver consistently high performance consumer connections."
With indoor areas increasingly prone to mobile network congestion, Ericsson has also developed the first 802.11ac access point designed to enable mobile operators to deliver supplemental small cell or standalone Wi-Fi coverage indoors. The 802.11ac standard is common on tablets and increasingly prevalent on smartphones.
Two new cloud-controller options, both featuring 3GPP-standard interfaces to the mobile core, make it easier and more cost-efficient for operators to add Wi-Fi to their existing mobile services. The Ericsson Evo Controller now features a Wi-Fi controller blade, the WIC 8030. A new standalone controller, the WIC 8100, supports up to 10,000 access points and 500,000 concurrent subscribers, allowing operators to consolidate multiple Wi-Fi networks from a centralized location in a cost-efficient way.
Ericsson is also introducing integrated management of Wi-Fi and 3GPP networks on a common platform, simplifying operations and reducing network costs.