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Ericsson and Arqiva two faces of managed WiFi services

The rise of neutral host and ‘as a service’ network models will be a significant boost to adoption of small cells, as highlighted in documents recently published as part of the  Small Cell Forum’s Smart Enterprise Release (http://scf.io/en/documents/017_-_R6_-_Multi-Operator_Market_Drivers.php). But SCaaS (small cells as a service) opportunities are also growing in the public WiFi sector, as recent deals announced by Ericsson and Arqiva illustrate.

Ericsson is working with WiFi network operator Ozone Networks in India, to offer SCaaS to major MNO Reliance Communications. The agreement with RCOM includes technology, design, planning, building and optimization of networks.

India’s mobile operators are increasingly taking advantage of a more relaxed regulatory approach to unlicensed spectrum (see separate item) to harness WiFi, reducing the pressure on their inadequate and expensive licensed spectrum resources. Several operators, including newcomer Reliance Jio, are investing heavily in hotspots, but RCOM aims to speed up its activities, and deploy new services more flexibly, by tapping into Ericsson’s expertise in planning and running wireless networks. Ericsson already has a significant managed services business among India’s macro networks and can expect to extend this into small cells and WiFi as those become more strategic.

RCOM’s president, Suresh Rangachar, said: “The surge in mobile connectivity and smartphone uptake has led to immense growth in data usage. This partnership will enable us to meet the ever-growing customer expectations in ultra-dense environments through data offload to a countrywide carrier grade WiFi network.”

Jean-Claude Geha, head of managed services at Ericsson, added: “Together with Ozone India, we are realizing our vision of providing a neutral, shared WiFi infrastructure. Ericsson supports our customers’ targets of new revenues and subscribers throughout indoor venues and hotspots with the Small Cell as-a-Service model. Ericsson’s SCaaS supports all technologies, from MuLTEfire with the Ericsson Dot solution to Cisco’s WiFi solution.”

In the UK, towerco Arqiva has also been diversifying from its traditional business providing sites for mobile macro networks, into WiFi, small cell and Internet of Things infrastructure and services. Its latest project is to deliver unified public and enterprise WiFi services to Nationwide Building Society’s network of over 700 high street branches.

The system, optimized for the financial institution’s needs, has been delivered with Arqiva partners Aerohive and Mobliciti, and  will support new digital banking experiences for Nationwide customers as well as efficiencies for employees.

Martin Boyle, director of business transformation at Nationwide, said: “The new WiFi service is already a major contributor in transforming the way in which we engage our members in branch, enabling them to better exploit the benefits of our Digital Society.”

Paul Hellings, director of WiFi and small cells at Arqiva, added: “The beauty of the solution we have put in place for Nationwide is its both fully resilient and standalone, meeting the needs of staff and customers as well as ensuring a PCI compliant failover from the Nationwide corporate LAN. We are also able to provide Nationwide and our other customers with additional security capabilities such as rogue access point detection that are so essential for financial services organisations today.”

As part of its five-year contract, Arqiva will be providing an ongoing service desk for Nationwide and has also supported delivery of the company’s Innovation Lab, which was set up to test new technology-based products, devices and ideas in support of Nationwide’s next generation digital banking strategy.

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