Better Wireless Coverage in Public Spaces, Advancing the 5G Future — ATIS’ Neutral Host Solution

Although each of us as cellphone users takes it for granted every day, providing cellular coverage in large, publicly managed spaces is a great challenge.  In the places where we gather most — office buildings, multi-tenant apartments or condos, shopping malls and stadiums — all major providers must typically deploy their own small cells dedicated to their own customers in addition to Wi-Fi and unlicensed access.  Besides being highly redundant, these parallel infrastructures are costly and can contribute to visual clutter.  In some cases, physical constraints prevent the deployment of parallel infrastructures.

An innovative new ATIS solution helps operators understand options to deploy a common shared infrastructure in these spaces that all service providers could use. This means, the infrastructure becomes a neutral host not aligned with any specific provider.

Innovation Now — and for the New 5G Network

A neutral host infrastructure not only makes it easier for providers to offer coverage, but also has implications for advancing the objectives for both 5G and the evolution of LTE. ATIS has contributed many solutions to advance a robust 5G network. These are geared toward enhancing the new network’s efficiency, security and service velocity — as well as advancing 5G’s inherent commercial opportunities. As the public uses more data capacity, the wireless infrastructure needs to be brought closer to them.  A neutral host infrastructure can help grow network capacity by improving the logistics and economics of densely deploying small cells.

Nuts and Bolts — and Signals

ATIS’ neutral host vision combines two concepts key to advancing transformation of multi-operator service in public spaces.  The “hosting” aspect refers to an entity that provides resources to clients such as mobile network operators to allow the hosted clients to provide continuous services. “Neutrality” refers to the host acting as a shared platform to multiple hosted clients. Neutrality in this context does not imply strict equality between hosted clients, as the resources offered to each are subject to commercial agreement between the neutral host and the hosted client; policy-based management may be applied.

From a user’s point of view, the system behavior and services using a neutral host’s resources are available without user intervention. Ideally, these should be seamless and identical to those provided by their hosted clients’ dedicated resources. Because neutral hosting provides service equivalence to the user, it can be a viable alternative to conventional dedicated infrastructure.

Not only is ATIS delivering solutions that would potentially allow carriers to reduce operational costs, but our work shows how strong service level agreements between the neutral host and hosted operator client networks will help ensure high-quality and better-managed public connectivity in public settings.

A Simpler, More Efficient Future

“In the ICT environment, many companies have decided that building dedicated computing infrastructure is not essential to their business; instead they rent capacity in commercial clouds, said ATIS President and CEO Susan Miller.  “Neutral hosts bring benefits similar to those of a cloud environment to the provision of mobile network coverage and help operators attain levels of service not viable through other approaches.”

ATIS’ neutral host solution can also help to improve wireless coverage to meet exceptional demand in spaces without the infrastructure to provide decent coverage, such as festivals, concerts, or other types of gatherings. Neutral hosts support disaster recovery efforts by reducing the infrastructure re-build needed to enable services to users subscribed to multiple operators. Whatever the venue or setting, the goal is to deliver impeccable wireless connectivity, a first-rate consumer experience, and make the solution easy to deploy by taking the complexity out of the engineering it takes to install.

ATIS’ work dovetails into work currently taking place in other bodies such as 3GPP, MulteFire and the Small Cell Forum, which are developing technical solutions and business models to support neutral host solutions.

The ICT industry is now looking at a future in which it can build the infrastructure as an operator would to deliver wireless in managed spaces without having it be operator-specific.

Learn more about ATIS’ Neutral Host solution in our white paper, Neutral Host Solutions for Multi-Operator Wireless Coverage in Managed Spaces.  This comprehensive resource offers neutral host providers and solutions vendors a reference to understand the options available for these solutions as well as how to best implement them.

Iain Sharp has over 20 years experience in the mobile communications industry and served two periods as vice-chairman of the 3GPP CT Plenary. He is the director of Netovate, an independent consultancy with a mission to provide clients with a commercial advantage through an understanding of communications technology developments, particularly in the standards sphere.

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