With Ericsson stating mobile data traffic will surge by a factor of eight and 1 billion 5G subscriptions are expected by the end of 2023, we're told that "mobile operators must meet consumer and enterprise demand for applications such as 4K/8K video streaming, virtual reality/augmented reality, and immersive media".
Naturally, a lot of this will be happening indoors, and given that some of this content and these experiences will be delivered not just by Wi-Fi but also by direct 5G connections, it should come as no surprise to see Ericsson state that "this puts out a strong call for indoor coverage, which cannot be easily addressed by outdoor radio deployments as modern building materials can block outdoor radio signals".
Thus we find Ericsson proudly boast that it is meeting this challenge "by introducing the 5G Radio Dot, a small cell radio designed to satisfy the advanced indoor mobile broadband performance requirements demanded by 5G".
Nishant Batra, head of Product Area Network Infrastructure at Ericsson, said: “Adding small cell solutions to our 5G portfolio is a natural part of the network evolution. Enterprises have been asking for first-rate connectivity indoors, as well as higher speeds and capacity to serve advanced use cases that cannot be addressed by traditional indoor systems. Our 5G portfolio, bolstered by small cells, will enable operators to meet these demands.”
Daryl Schoolar, practice leader, Ovum, said: “Now that first 5G standards are here, vendors are going to need multiple radio solutions to help operators roll out their new 5G networks. Ericsson takes an important initial step in this direction by adding indoor small cell 5G solutions to its already existing outdoor 5G RAN portfolio. This new indoor solution from Ericsson is going to be attractive for operators wanting to offer enterprises good indoor performance for enhanced mobile broadband and new industrial applications that can’t be met by Wi-Fi or 5G base stations deployed outdoors.”
Huang Yuhong, deputy head of China Mobile Research Institute, said: “The Ericsson Radio Dot System is already widely deployed in our 4G networks. As an innovative small cell solution, it further enhances our indoor solutions and will continue to play a key role in the 5G era. We’re happy to see Ericsson evolving the Radio Dot to 5G technology.”
As noted in the introduction, Ericsson says the new 5G Radio Dot is "a natural evolution of the Ericsson Radio Dot System", and thus "operators will be able to deploy 5G Radio Dot next to 4G solutions using the same cabling infrastructure, same network architecture and dot locations", all of which sounds like it would be music to the ears of operators with Ericsson's 4G networks.
The company says its "innovative small cell solution provides a simple upgrade path for existing Radio Dot System deployments, adding 5G technology capabilities. It is easy to add frequency, capacity, and technologies".
Feng Yi, director of Wireless Technology Department, China Unicom Network Technology Research Institute, said: “Our users enjoy excellent indoor coverage in thousands of buildings in China, including shopping malls, thanks to Ericsson Radio Dot solution. As a scalable system, it enables us to meet the growing demand for seamless indoor connectivity. It is great to see Ericsson evolve the solution to 5G as we prepare for the next-generation mobile technology.”
For those unaware of the success of the existing Radio Dot System, we're told that it has been "successfully deployed for many indoor applications used in large areas such as office buildings, shopping malls, hospitals, and airports".
"Over time, the small cell solution will also support 5G industrial applications from connected factories to more extreme cases such as connected mining", with Ericsson noting that it is "a pioneer on this front".
The company says its collaboration with Boliden "shows how Radio Dot technology can improve safety and efficiency through the remote control of machines that keep people out of the most dangerous areas of the mine at the most dangerous times".
The 5G Radio Dot will undergo trials in late 2018 and will be commercially available in 2019.
Here's Ericsson infographic for its existing Radio Dot system: