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China Mobile plans LTE-U small cell roll out, as NEC extends Spidercloud team-up

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China Mobile is planning to deploy LTE-U based small cells using products from Baicells and software from Radisys, as NEC and Spidercloud also extended their small cell partnership.

The operator will use a mix of licensed spectrum and unlicensed 5GHz frequency to power the small cell network. China Mobile, which has not indicated how many small cells it intends to deploy, will roll out Baicells’ Light4G product that uses Radisys' CellEngine TOTALeNodeB software.

Stephen Wilson, Principal Analyst, Analysys Mason, said: “We’re seeing a growing industry trend of mobile operators actively turning to LTE in unlicensed spectrum to increase both capacity and speed, particularly in dense environments where there is a high level of traffic and limited spectrum availability.

“While operators may choose to use a combination of LTE, Wi-Fi and LTE-U moving forward depending on their environment, Radisys’ addition of LTE-U functionality to its small cell software helps bring the benefits of LTE-U to the market today.”

[Read more - "Polite" dynamic spectrum access could lead to innovation spurt]

LTE-U is seen as a way of broadening operators' spectrum holdings by using Wi-Fi bands. However, the move has left some Wi-Fi players unhappy at what they perceive as a land-grab by operators.

Nokia and Qualcomm have co-founded an alliance to promote LTE-U technology, in an attempt to broaden its reach and lock down standards of the tech.

Meanwhile, NEC and Spidercloud revealed that they have extended their partnership to offer LTE-U small cells to enterprises.

Nozomu Watanabe, General Manager, Mobile Radio Access Network Division, NEC Corporation, said: “The strategic partnership with SpiderCloud has enabled NEC to create a uniquely differentiated solution in the market. Enabling our customers to offer converged services at the edge through a high quality access network is our key approach and differentiator to help our customers monetise their small cells deployments.”

The companies have been collaborating since 2012, offering the likes of LTE and dual-carrier LTE small cells.