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Ericsson launches stadium-optimised Wi-Fi solution

By Semaj Itosno, Nairobi, Kenya

Ericsson has launched a new Wi-Fi solution that would enable high-speed sharing of photos and videos from populated social events.

The new Ericsson product is a stadium-optimized Wi-Fi solution which consists of two products - the AP 5114 stadium-optimized Wi-Fi access point and the WIC 8000 Wi-Fi controller – which together create a Wi-Fi network that is integrated with the mobile network.

Social networking and Video apps are used heavily during major events such as sports matches and concert and mobile traffic in stadia is usually high.

To offer a seamless experience for mobile device users at stadia, the stadium-optimized Wi-Fi solution addresses user density and interference challenges to deliver high-performance coverage for mobile video and data apps.

According to Dave Park, Ericsson’s head of Wi-Fi product line, the innovation is in response to the fact that attending a sports match, concert or other event in a full stadium is a great experience that many people instantly want to share with friends and family – for example – uploading videos and photos to social networking sites, interacting via Facebook, Twitter or SMS during such events can sometimes be challenging due to the sudden increase in network traffic.

In its Traffic and Market Data report, Ericsson forecasts that mobile data traffic will increase 10-fold between 2011 and 2016, mainly driven by video.

This predicted growth, combined with the popularity and ubiquity of Wi-Fi on mobile devices, has created a trend toward operators deploying their own Wi-Fi networks. Given that social networking and video apps are used particularly heavily during major events, mobile traffic in stadiums is especially high.

The result is that, from the operators’ perspective, stadia are like very dense metropolitan “villages” that require a wide range of wireless solutions – such as small cells, distributed antenna systems (DAS) and Wi-Fi as a complement to the existing macro network – to address all of the coverage and capacity requirements.

“This Wi-Fi solution ­– which represents our first Wi-Fi product launch since our acquisition of BelAir Networks in April this year – enables stadium owners and managers to provide fans with the same options that they have when watching events at home, including instant replays and multi-view content feeds. Our solution meets all of the requirements that operators have for comprehensive, coordinated and integrated wireless coverage in stadiums,” said Mr. Park.

Delivering additional radio network capacity and coverage through the deployment of small cells as part of a heterogeneous network is central to most mobile operators’ mobile broadband strategies, and Wi-Fi is a key element. With Wi-Fi fully integrated into mobile access and core networks, users will enjoy seamless access to high-performance mobile broadband, whether they are connected over 3GPP or Wi-Fi, and operators will be able to choose connectivity to optimize the user experience.

The Global Market Forecast report released by Strategy Analytics in February 2012 states that by 2015, annual sales of Wi-Fi enabled mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets will reach 1.7 billion units.  Meanwhile, Ericsson’s Traffic and Market report predicts that mobile data traffic will grow with a Compound Annual Growth Rate of around 60 percent (2011-2017), driven mainly by video. 

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