Updated: Dec 7, 2017
Sprint is adding a new indoor small cell to its toolkit by partnering with Corning's SpiderCloud Wireless. The carrier will offer enterprise customers two SpiderCloud radio nodes, one of which clips onto Cisco's Wi-Fi access points to enable companies to use their existing cabling for small cell deployments.
SpiderCloud, which was acquired by Corning earlier this year, makes small cell systems that consist of multi-band radio access nodes supported by service nodes which handle provisioning, optimization, synchronization, handovers, and connection to the carrier's core network. SpiderCloud supports Sprint's 1.9 GHz spectrum band, and is in the process of adding support for its 2.5 GHz band, according to Sprint.
Sprint's addition of the SpiderCloud solution comes after its successful launch of its own indoor small cell, which it calls the Magic Box. Originally conceived as a solution for home users who need better coverage, the Magic Box is also popular with enterprise customers. It uses dedicated channels in Sprint's 2.5 GHz band, a high-frequency, short wavelength band that requires close proximity of cell sites. The SpiderCloud small cells will be more suitable for Sprint customers who are not close to a macro site, and will also be better for large-scale deployments. SpiderCloud small cells may also be more readily available than the Magic Box, which has been plagued by supply shortages.
The two SpiderCloud nodes Sprint will offer are the SCRN-220 and the SCRN-250. The SCRN-220 is powered by standard Ethernet, and can cover up to 15,000 square feet in a typical office environment, according to SpiderCloud. The SCRN-250, which can cover up to 7,000 square feet, attaches to Cisco's Aironet 3600 or 3700 Wi-Fi access points, with no need for additional cables. Sprint said it expects customers with Cisco access points installed to be able to deploy each SpiderCloud node in less than 30 minutes.
The SpiderCloud solution is designed to scale up to 1.5 million square feet, with each service node supporting up to 100 radio nodes. The small cells have already been deployed in the U.S. by Verizon, and are certified for AT&T's network as well.
The Sprint contract is significant for SpiderCloud and parent company Corning, but may not portend the future direction of SpiderCloud's business. When Corning bought SpiderCloud, the company said it wants to create a small cell solution that can work on multiple carrier networks and can be marketed directly to enterprise customers. Corning also wants to use SpiderCloud small cells as signal sources for fiber-fed distributed antenna systems.
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