Telecoms

Small Cell Forum Use Case: Dense Air’s pioneering use of Split 6 enabling scaled small cell deployment.

About the deployment  

Dense Air is pioneering the use of Split 6 fronthaul and smart antenna technology for the scaled deployment of small cell clusters to support or infill existing holes in carrier networks, or to provide densified, dedicated private mobile coverage, enabling a range of use cases and applications.  

The development of streetCell was supported through the UK Government’s Future RAN competition. Dense Air led the development, design and trial deployment of small cell clusters which would enhance network resilience and robustness – this project was called CoMP-ORAN, which stands for Coordinated Multipoint – Open Radio Access Networks.  

One key use case for Split 6, an architecture championed by Small Cell Forum (SCF), is in high performance scenarios such as Connected Automated Vehicles (CAV). Using smart antenna technologies like CoMP, Dense Air’s small cell cluster design reduces the frequency of handover, providing contiguous connectivity to the vehicles, minimising the chance of data drops or disconnect.  

Trial deployments and field testing happened in both Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire and at Teesside International Airport in the north of England. However, the technology being developed is versatile and applicable to various global markets. After gaining Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval in 2023, streetCell is currently being deployed at scale across the United States. 

The impact 

The development of streetCell brought together several SCF members – Dense Air, Radisys and Airspan – not only to design and develop the hardware solution but also to deploy an effective end-to-end Open RAN solution, built on industry partnerships. This model, proven at the Millbrook trial, can now be offered as a complete neutral host solution where each cell within a cluster using licensed spectrum can provide densified carrier services or private secure connectivity. Although at Millbrook the use case centred on automotive, Dense Air is now deploying for enterprise and industry and working closely with a number of local government bodies, utilising existing street infrastructure to cost effectivity bring mobile service to areas in need of service. 

This video illustrates a vehicle (represented by the blue dot) driving around the city course at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire at the Cenex Expo event in September 2023. The dynamic white lines illustrate the constant connection to the vehicle from multiple cells within this cluster of 5 cells (represented by the hexagon).  

The technical details  

CoMP takes lead from macro level Multi Input, Multi Output (MIMO) technologies, provides significant advantages, such as: 

  • Each streetCell can provide both 360-degree coverage, or multi directional sectorisation with adaptable beam patterns. 
  • Enables the remote optimization of streetCell clusters via a Radio Intelligent Controller (RIC) to the targeted coverage and capacity objectives. 
  • Multiple Transmit Receive Points (Multi TRP), designed for CoMP, maximise the gains from spatial diversity and spatial multiplexing. 
  • Compliments macro cells by providing additional in-fill. 
  • Improves deployment robustness. 
  • Removes the need for pre-deployment radio frequency (RF) design phase to consider antenna alignment / placement. 
  • Eliminates nulls in target coverage area and optimises cell footprint post deployment. 
  • Designed to support multi-sector 2×2 MIMO operation. 

The outcome  

To support new 5G use cases, the industry is required to become increasingly innovative in how to reduce cost while at the same time provide enhanced reliability. By augmenting the existing network, identifying, and targeting network weak spots, Dense Air has enabled carriers to tap into seamless, low-cost additional coverage and capacity through a scalable, flexible small cell deployment model.  

Their use of Split 6 fronthaul and switch beam antenna significantly reduces the cost to deploy clusters of shared network infrastructure in supporting diversified use cases. This technology which is an integral aspect of their streetCell product line, initially tested and proven at UTAC Millbrook Proving Ground, has been implemented into Dense Air’s end to end As-a-Service solution with partners Radisys and EdgeQ, currently been deployed to support several CAV use cases across the United States.  

This video provides an overview of the Dense Air small cell deployment at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire. 

To read more about this use case click here.

5G Networks: Revolutionizing the Future

5G is not just faster 4G – it offers up a broad range of new network architecture, operational and service options that go beyond smartphone connectivity, and it can take full advantage of cloud platforms, open architectures, semiconductor innovations and more. In this panel discussion, held during MWC in Barcelona, James Estes, CEO Dense Air, Arun Bhikshesvaran, CEO Radisys Corporation, and Vinay Ravuri, CEO EdgeQ Inc. explore the revolutionary potential of the many 5G options available to enterprises, mobile operators, cities and communities, and other indoor & outdoor public and private use cases.

Shared broadband infrastructure to empower Worthing

Worthing, a popular seaside town on England’s south coast, is a tale of two towns. During public holidays, and particularly throughout the summer months, the town transforms into a thriving tourist hub brimming with visitors – but as school term resumes and crowds thin out, the focus turns back to the residents and the local economy.

This seasonal rollercoaster strains Worthing’s mobile network infrastructure, leaving residents, visitors, and enterprises struggling to connect during times of peak demand – a tale becoming ever-more familiar in many towns and urban centers.

Acutely aware of the role connectivity plays in today’s society, the UK Department of Science Innovation and Technology (DSIT) today announced the winners of their Open Networks Ecosystem competition – an important initiative to bring together the public and private sectors to solve connectivity and infrastructure challenges.

One of the winners of this competition is the Beach Energy-efficient Accessed Cluster for High-demand (BEACH) Project , an innovative shared 4G/5G shared small cell solution for Worthing. Dense Air is leading this project and working with West Sussex County Council; technology providers Radisys UK, VMware, and Sitenna; and the University of Glasgow; in collaboration with two of the UK’s largest mobile network operators (MNOs).

Whether you’re in a busy city centre or a rural village, a fast and reliable mobile connection is vital to staying in touch, accessing services and doing business. In order to secure that, we need to embrace a diverse and secure range of technology that will underpin the network. The projects we’re backing today with £88 million in Government research and development investment will use innovative Open RAN solutions to make our mobile networks more adaptable and resilient, with future-proofed technology to support bringing lightning-fast connections across the country for many years to come.

Sir John Whittingdale MP, Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure

Optimized for efficiency, the BEACH Project’s low-impact small cells flex capacity based on real-time demand data. Scaled down in the off-season, BEACH ramps up seamlessly when the crowds return. This intelligent load balancing means there is no more wasted energy – a key step toward West Sussex County’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.

Crucially, the BEACH Project also helps close the digital divide between the residents of Worthing and those of urban areas who enjoy stronger, more reliable mobile service. By sharing network infrastructure costs across multiple carriers and efficiently utilizing the existing gigabit fiber footprint, this project provides Worthing with the wireless mobile connectivity needed for the town to thrive and grow in the 21st century. As demand grows, the BEACH Project’s nimble shared architecture can scale to deliver the same high bandwidth that denser metro areas enjoy.

The BEACH Project embodies Dense Air’s vision of harnessing innovation to make connectivity more reliable, accessible, and inclusive. Part of Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners’ CoFi platform, Dense Air combines open RAN infrastructure with shared spectrum, enabling multiple MNOs to share secure infrastructure. This model helps MNOs augment and improve their proprietary networks, lowers their operating costs, and increases 5G deployment speed.

This project also highlights Dense Air’s innovative and flexible approach to creating public-private partnerships that strengthen communities and improve urban life. Close collaboration with the West Sussex County Council and the Worthing Borough Council, along with a series of private sector partners, was instrumental in developing the scalable BEACH network and will be key to its smooth implementation. Locals and visitors will seamlessly experience improvements in their mobile service, while a new mobile app will provide the Council and DSIT with relevant data on network performance to inform future shared network rollouts across the country.

Worthing now serves as a model of how governments, communities, companies, and carriers can join forces to bridge the digital divide with inclusive solutions like shared wireless network infrastructure that expands the reach of 5G. The potential is enormous. But none of it is possible without visionary thinking — and most importantly, visionary partnerships between the public and private sectors. Worthing shows what’s possible when all parties work together to find innovative infrastructure solutions to communities’ pressing connectivity challenges.


A full list of successful projects and more about Beach can be found here.

Bringing shared, open network infrastructure to the US market

Building on Dense Air’s success across the UK and Europe, we are strengthening our focus on the US market, where we’re seeing both growing demand for Open RAN technology and an increasing need for sustainable 5G deployment. Dense Air, with our innovative RAN-as-a-Service (RaaS) solution, is uniquely well-positioned to meet these needs in the US through partnerships with large mobile network operators (MNOs) and communities across the country.

To drive forward this expansion, we are growing our global leadership team. In late 2022, Dense Air named Jim Estes as CEO. Jim is a well-regarded business leader within the telecom sector, bringing over 35 years of industry experience to his role as our CEO. He has previously served as CEO of Network Connex and Velocitel, as well as on the Boards of several wireless infrastructure companies. Since joining Dense Air last year, Jim has used that experience to accelerate our shared neutral-host network infrastructure model.

Dense Air brings to the market both cutting-edge technology and a new ‘as-a-service’ business model. We also have a team with an exceptionally strong track record. So it’s no surprise that operators and cities trust us and tell us that our technology is exactly what they need to expand sustainable and reliable access.

Jim Estes, CEO Dense Air

As we continue to grow our presence in the US, a core component of our strategy and mission is partnering with cities, utilities, and other public sector actors to expand connectivity in an efficient and equitable way and to help communities realize the promise of 5G. To help us identify and build these collaborations, we have added Brenna Berman to our team as EVP of Strategic Partnerships. She brings a wealth of experience, including as CEO and CIO across both public and private organizations. Brenna recently served as Chief Information Officer & Commissioner for the city of Chicago, where she spearheaded the development and execution of Chicago’s tech transformation and innovation strategy, working under Mayor Rahm Emanuel. She also founded and led City Tech, an innovative company developing tech-enabled solutions to urban challenges, and serves on the Boards of several nonprofits, tech companies, and universities.

Underpinning this growth and proliferation of partnerships is, of course, a great product. Under the leadership of Daniel Herb, who recently joined Dense Air as Head of Product from Vapor IO, we look forward to advancing our innovative product offering and accelerating our product roadmap. Daniel has been focused on innovation in connectivity — from 5G to IoT — throughout his entire career and has held a variety of senior leadership roles at T-Mobile, Amazon, and more.

Dense Air is pioneering the move to shared network infrastructure, offering neutral-host RaaS solutions that enhance and extend MNOs’ services. But those changes in deployment also represent a shift in the operating model for these MNOs. That’s why Dense Air has brought on Ken Czosnowski as EVP for Business Development and James Wise as COO. Ken joins us from Centerline Communications and, previously, FDH Velocitel, and James was most recently the COO of Network Connex. They each bring three decades of experience in the telecom industry, and they are well-positioned to work with our MNO partners in the adoption and delivery of indoor and outdoor small cell deployments.

Similar to how our technology is transforming operating models, introducing our RaaS solution to MNOs requires business model innovation as well. To guide our approach to this, Dense Air has brought on Doug Lee, who co-founded Peerless Network, as CFO. Doug brings 33 years of experience in finance and 22 years in the telecom industry to his new role, where he leads our investment strategy and helps build strong strategic alliances with our vendors and business partners.

Dense Air is poised for a successful 2023, with a fast-growing demand for the deployment of our technology. These leaders will be central to that effort in the US and beyond, and we look forward to expanding our rapid progress in the months ahead.

Click here to learn more about careers at Dense Air.

Open RAN: Driving Innovation and Diversity in Tomorrow’s 5G Networks

Earlier this month, key stakeholders from across the telecom space gathered in New Orleans at the Connect (X) Conference to discuss a broad range of issues and opportunities shaping the future of the industry. One of the most widely discussed and debated topics this year was the introduction and execution of Open RAN, interoperable technologies that enable a more diverse, resilient, and secure ecosystem for radio access networks.      

At Dense Air, we’re delighted to see our industry increasingly turn its focus to the opportunities unlocked by Open RAN technologies, an area where we’ve long been focused, and which is at the core of our business. We believe that the widespread adoption of Open RAN is critical to closing the digital divide and making connectivity more open, shared, and inclusive.

Paul Trubridge, Dense Air’s SVP of Global Solutions, shared our perspective on the main stage:      

In many instances, the economics of a mobile network operator (MNO) building out its network is broken, which is why we see areas where coverage and capacity are limited. This is especially true for the mid-band 5G, where the revenue per user (RPU) advantages from 5G aren’t enough to fund overlays for each individual operator. RAN sharing fundamentally changes the economics and solves this problem: when RAN infrastructure is shared by multiple MNOs or mixed public/private use cases, the costs per operator are significantly reduced.

Open RAN architecture is built with scalability as a primary goal. It allows for multiple operators and mixed-use cases, which means that multiple vendors can use a single network site. For instance, Open RAN supports MORAN (Multi Operator RAN), which allows all the infrastructure except the radio carriers — the antenna, tower, site, and power — to be shared by multiple mobile operators. Open RAN also supports MOCN (Multi Operator Core Network), which is similar but allows two or more network operators to share the carriers as well. Because Open RAN technologies are highly customizable, they create the building blocks for a system that can remain scalable and reliable, even as network demand increases.

Thanks to cloud computing, Open RAN architecture also allows for virtualization — meaning the use of dedicated hardware with flexible software components that can scale the network. If the RAN footprint needs to expand or new service providers want to be hosted or new use cases emerge, we have the ability to do that without investing in expensive new hardware.

Finally, Dense Air’s use of Open RAN architecture also allows the network to use a range of vendors, as opposed to being locked in to one vendor in perpetuity. For instance, we can mix-and-match radio units and scale up or down using hyper-scaler software technology. Because Dense Air can do this without having to install new physical infrastructure, we can ensure that the network uses the best suppliers for the task at hand, increasing vendor diversity and reducing supply chain risks.

Taken together, through our early adoption of Open RAN technology, we have created a future-proof solution. By allowing for multiple vendors, virtualizing key components, and allowing multiple operators to leverage the same hardware, we’re building a solution that can expand as a population’s needs expand — deployments that can stand the test of time.

We’re excited to see others across our industry increasingly start to appreciate the innovation and opportunities that Open RAN technologies can unlock.

– Ken Czosnowski, EVP Business Development

Dense Air partners with Citymesh and Digi to expand 5G access across Belgium

As the widespread adoption of 5G accelerates, Dense Air is delighted to partner with Citymesh and Digi. Through this partnership, Citymesh and Digi will strengthen their 5G network across Belgium by deploying Dense Air’s RAN-as-a-Service (RaaS) small cells, which will enable the MNOs to offer enhanced coverage, higher speeds, and greater capacity. The deployment of Dense Air’s small cells will densify Citymesh and Digi’s existing macro network across the country while expanding 4G and 5G service availability in hard-to-reach places that the macro layer struggles to reach.

This partnership and deployment build on Citymesh and Digi’s acquisition of Dense Air Belgium, a subsidiary of Dense Air Networks, earlier this year. Dense Air Belgium has enhanced the MNOs’ spectrum portfolio with its 2.6GHz TDD spectrum, which added 45MHz of prime 4G/5G spectrum to Citymesh and Digi’s spectrum portfolio, and provides access to Dense Air’s unique RaaS 4G and 5G neutral host solution, both of which will play an important role in enhancing  4G and 5G services in high-density urban areas – all at a significantly reduced cost. 

5G network availability across across Belgium is extremely limited, particularly in Brussels if compared to other urban centres.

Dense Air’s mission is to help communities and carriers realize the promise of 5G, which we achieve by driving down the costs of small cell deployments through RAN infrastructure that can accommodate multiple operators and multiple use cases. This approach yielded breakthroughs in 2023: current multi-band radio units now support up to 400 MHz wideband radios carrying MNO-licenced and shared spectrum for public and private networks.

By using big data insights provided by Dense Air’s proprietary DenseWare analytics platform, Citymesh and Digi will now be able to target deployments street-by-street and even building-by-building, identifying where mobile networks are not performing — and, importantly, where macro investment is not viable.

Working with Citymesh and Digi, Dense Air will deliver meaningful improvements to existing end-users while also helping to drive and support new 4G and 5G business cases. Be it street-side, indoor, or outdoor, understanding where 4G and 5G networks are failing offers hugely valuable insight for operators as they consider where shared and as-a-service solutions can be deployed on a cost-optimized and shared basis.