Introduction and about XCellAir
XCellAir enables the optimisation and management of all wireless networks that operate in unlicensed spectrum.
As the number of carrier-provided Wi-Fi access points continues to grow, operators are increasingly reliant on Wi-Fi performance to deliver key services such as data, video, messaging and voice.
However, the existing tools that operators use to manage and optimise cellular networks cannot operate at Wi-Fi scale, where access points are an order of magnitude greater in number than cellular sites. This means that critical functions such as interference management cannot be applied to Wi-Fi networks in the same way as cellular networks, threatening revenues and customer experience.
As operators bond unlicensed spectrum to small cells that operate in licensed spectrum, by deploying LTE-U, LAA or LWA functionality, optimisation and control of assets operating in unlicensed spectrum will only become more important.
To respond to this challenge, XCellAir has developed its XCellRAN solution that leverages automation and cloud technologies to enable the cost-effective deployment and ongoing optimisation of millions of Wi-Fi access points. It does this by automating the provisioning and self-healing of the network, allowing operators to dramatically improve user experience in a scaleable, economic and replicable way.
The Other Network
This story starts with a problem. The problem is that operators can no longer afford to treat Wi-Fi as “the other network”, an unmanaged and unregulated space where they have no or very little control over service quality. What they are finding is that Wi-Fi now requires the sort of performance management capabilities that operators apply to other access technologies.
Todd Mersch, co-founder of XCellAir, takes up the story:
However, although operators know they have issues with Wi-Fi quality, with customer care centres dealing with an increasing number of calls related to users suffering from poor Wi-Fi performance, they don't know how and why those issues are occuring. To resolve that, they need visibility into unlicensed spectrum bands, to see what is going on. Only then can they turn that information into automated optimisation actions in the network. They need a SON for Wi-Fi.
So, if Wi-Fi requires the sort of performance management and optimisation that operators are used to providing in cellular networks - why is that a problem? The reason is that optimisation and management tools designed for cellular wireless networks simply won’t scale to Wi-Fi levels. Where cellular is controlled and closed, Wi-Fi is open and unregulated.
Mersch says that Wi-Fi optimisation requires the intelligence to deal with an uncontrolled environment, allied to Wi-Fi scale.
A solution to the problem
The news is that XCellAir provides a solution to that problem. It combines cloud-based software that can deal with the elasticity requirements of W-Fi with radio resource management and SON capability.
One perhaps unexpected advance has been that operators have also leveraged the core data that XCellAir uses to feed its algorithms for other uses within the business.
An LTE Future
The ability to manage access points that exist in unlicensed bands will give operators a natural advantage as they leverage small cell deployments to operate LTE in unlicensed spectrum, via LTE-U or LAA. An optimisation platform that can give visibility into Wi-Fi and into LTE operating in unlicensed spectrum bands will give operators the ability to give cellular and Wi-Fi users users a much better experience.
Press, news and coverage
Our announcements and how the media saw us at MWC16
Todd Mersch was extensively quoted in this issue-raising Rueters report on LTE Unlicensed.
“It is the Wild West at the moment,” says Mersch.
Following successful trials and pilots, XCellAir’s Carrier Wi-Fi solution is now generally available. Read how the product is helping operators provide reliable Wi-Fi performance.
Appoints VP of Global Sales and Board Director to drive expanded customer engagement
Wi-Fi-first is not a new proposition, says Todd Mersch.
Narayan Menon predicts continued evolution of 5G, Wi-Fi and IoT in 2016.
XCellAir and Real Wireless study shows operators are leaving money on the table by failing to manage unregulated spectrum.
Away from the XCellAir booth, the team relaxed...
Was there dancing on the boat? There was dancing on the desks at XCellAir’s booth host, InterDigital.
VR was big at the event. Seems not everyone is convinced...
And 15 minutes before closing time on the final day, the team was still pitching....
So that was MWC16 for XCellAir. It now heads forward into the rest of 2016. Follow the journey.
XCellAir wants to continue the conversation at and after Mobile World Congress. We’re collecting resources here that throw more light on our products and capabilities.
1. Radio Environment Mapping
2. Coverage Gap Analysis
As XCellAir heads to its second Mobile World Congress, CEO Amit Agarwal highlights this year’s plans, and how the company’s focus fits into the the big themes of the event.
What will XCellAir be focussing on at this year’s event?
Last year we officially launched XCellAir at Mobile World Congress so most of the focus was on introducing the company, solution concept and the team to the market. This year is all about highlighting the dramatic and rapid progress we made in our first year. From honing our focus on dealing with the complexity of unlicensed spectrum to key partnerships and trials – it all will be on display at MWC 2016.
Are you planning any specific product launches or releases during the show?
Our product portfolio, called XCellRAN, was in a demo state last year when we launched the company. Being a “spinout” there was already more than a year of investment in the product at that time allowing us to quickly engage customers. Since then we have conducted multiple trials, tuned the product capabilities and rounded out the features to enable large scale deployments. We will be releasing the GA product version for operator managed Wi-Fi shortly after the MWC event and will be demonstrating key capabilities on the show floor.
A year on from your launch at last year’s event, can you track some of the progress you have made in that time?
It has been very busy twelve months.
We are now in four active trials and preparing to start two more this quarter. These trials span North America, India and Japan. In many cases the trials have started with residential Wi-Fi products being delivered by the operator. The market talks about broadband customers, but what they are really buying is WiFi service – and operators quickly need to gain the visibility, intelligence and automation to ensure reliable performance and QoE.
We also worked closely with CableLabs to put together a proof-of-concept for the global MSO community specifically for multi-vendor Wi-Fi radio optimization and self-organizing networks functionality. The effort with CableLabs demonstrated the benefits of solutions such as ours and has drawn much support from MSOs.
We have continued to expand our strategic partnerships both with Wi-Fi technology providers and Tier 1 managed services players. Stay tuned for more news to come in this area as we approach the event.
Finally, in collaboration with Real Wireless we published a series of detailed business cases the assist the operator community in understanding the potential in more effective use of unlicensed spectrum as part of their network. These were done both for the Mobile Network Operator and MSO communities and are available on our website.
Operators are facing a lot of challenges at the moment in aligning their networks with customer demands, and with economic limitations. MWC is a great opportunity to showcase technology that meets those challenges: so what customer needs does XCellAir best meet?
The initial pull for our product starts with Wi-Fi radio optimization. The ability to deliver reliable performance using unlicensed spectrum is becoming increasingly critical to operators both in the home as well as in public areas. Very quickly though customers realize to truly impact quality of experience takes more than avoiding interference. This is where XCellRAN’s automated provisioning, auto-healing, networking visualization and analytics features come into the picture.
Our customers need to deliver reliable and consistent performance across millions of Wi-Fi access points. This not only reduces operational expense – the majority of customer care calls are wireless related – but also provides the foundation for delivering additional services. Increases in QoE can only be achieved with a combination automation, network intelligence, visualization and analysis capabilities that can scale to support millions of APs. For XCellAir it’s not about “cloud-based” being the new sexy term – the use of virtualization and best-in-class cloud technology is fundamental to delivering on the scalability requirement cost-effectively.
For a start-up, does MWC offer a good chance to meet the sort of customer and partner you would like to? And who would you like to meet at MWC, in terms of potential customers and partners.
Absolutely, MWC has always been a great venue for large and small companies. Last year we launched the week before but still conducted more than forty meetings spanning potential customers, partners, press and analysts. The seeds for our initial trials and strategic partnerships were planted in Barcelona.
We will have all three founders of the company plus our Sales and Product Line Management leadership at the event enabling us to cover the customer, partner, press, and analyst meetings we expect.
We have a strong foundation in operator managed Wi-Fi - so we are looking to meet with potential customers who can benefit from improved Wi-Fi QoE and partners who are playing a strategic complementary role (e.g. managed services, next-generation Wi-Fi equipment, etc) in solving these issues.
Where can we find you at MWC this year?
We will be in Hall 7, Stand 7A71 – look for the XCellAir signs within the InterDigital booth. We welcome drop-ins and if you are interested in setting a meeting please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.