Ericsson boosts indoor 5G and location services

  • February 27, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson

Ericsson is boosting indoor 5G capacity and precise location services with a suite of hardware and software for communications service providers (CSPs) and enterprises.

The precise-location software enables enterprise use cases such as asset tracking and tool positioning. The family of products can cover any indoor scenario or business environment.

Ericsson has expanded its indoor mobile connectivity portfolio with three easy-to-deploy and cost-efficient options aimed at delivering 5G coverage, capacity and capabilities across the interior of any work or business environment, regardless of the size or complexity of the building. They will become part of the firm’s Radio Dot portfolio.

About four-fifths of mobile data are generated through indoor use. High-performing indoor mobile connectivity has become a critical digital infrastructure. However, relatively little floor space in buildings –  estimated by Ericsson at 10 to 15 per cent – is served by indoor 5G connectivity. Businesses spanning all sectors and sizes, whether airports, office complexes, hotels and industrial settings such as factories, mines and ports, require reliable connectivity that improves their operations and customers’ experience.

The fragmented in-building market primarily consists of technologies such as distributed antenna systems (DAS) and small cells. As a result, the indoor technology decision-making process is often difficult and time-consuming. Ericsson’s additions to its indoor 5G portfolio – comprising two hardware products and software – are aimed at meeting simplicity and monetisation goals through a scalable option suitable for any indoor environment or situation.

The indoor radio unit, called IRU 8850, is suitable for medium-to-large venue coverage. Designed for simple and speedy deployment, it delivers up to four times the capacity of its predecessors, enhancing network performance and user experience in medium to large venues. It is also up to seventy per cent more energy-efficient compared with active DAS technology.

The second indoor 5G portfolio addition – aimed at small- to medium-sized building coverage – is called the Indoor Fusion Unit, a compact, all-in-one indoor 5G option that combines radio and baseband functionalities into one unit, making it easy and quick to deploy.

Ericsson is also introducing software for indoor networks called 5G Precise Positioning, which provides location services for a wide range of uses cases that CSPs and enterprises can use, such as asset tracking and tool positioning, in environments such as factories, mines, hospitals, warehouses and other industrial private network applications, as well as in emergency response scenarios.

“The new Radio Dot system equipment and location services software further increase the flexibility of Ericsson’s indoor portfolio,” said David Hammarwall, head of product area networks at Ericsson. “Scalable and cost-efficient, the expanded portfolio offers a one-stop-shop to accelerate indoor 5G rollouts globally, spreading the benefits of premium indoor connectivity. It will also enable a variety of use cases for service providers and enterprises that will boost operational efficiency, safety and user experience.”

Joe Madden, chief analyst at Mobile Experts, added: “The in-building wireless market is so diverse that products have remained extremely fragmented for years. Ericsson has pulled together a line-up of products that are more flexible and adaptable, to handle wide variations in the application. This approach can drive economy of scale, with common parts serving large and small buildings, with high capacity, low capacity or multi-operator applications. This kind of digital backbone will enable deployment to scale up for larger numbers of buildings.”

The IRU 8850 indoor radio unit is purpose-built for single or multi-operator deployments in medium to large venues such as airports, offices and stadiums. The product can serve up to eight venues from one centralised location, with a 10km fibre reach. It also supports both purpose-built and cloud RAN architectures. It provides up to eighty per cent reduction in physical equipment space and up to fifty per cent lower total cost of ownership thanks to network sharing.

The Indoor Fusion Unit is a compact plug-and-play indoor 5G option aimed at small and medium-sized buildings such as coffee shops, chain stores, branch offices, movie theatres and restaurants. It can connect up to four Radio Dots with multi-Gbit/s per Dot. It creates business opportunities for service providers by adding 5G connectivity for smaller enterprises and branch locations.

The 5G Precise Positioning software enables enterprise use cases and 5G monetisation thanks to its mobile 3D positioning precision of less than 1m for any 5G device indoors. Only a mobile connection is needed (no sensors) and it is fully integrated with the existing network.

“The indoor 5G market is taking off and T-Mobile is ensuring our business customers are reaping the benefits,” said Mark McDiarmid, senior vice president t with T-Mobile in the USA. “New solutions like the Ericsson Indoor Fusion Unit will enable us to quickly scale and deliver 5G to our customers with high-performing networks indoors, enabling incredible new use cases and opportunities.”

Kellie Lakamp, chief executive officer at Totem, added: “At Totem, we strive to deliver the very best cellular for our enterprise customers and commercial real-estate owners. Working with Ericsson and their Radio Dot portfolio has enabled us to bring high-capacity, high performance connectivity to employees, tenants and visitors.”

The products are on show at this week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and will be commercially available in the second half of 2023.