Ruckus Wireless™ (Ruckus) today announced that it has been selected by KDDI Corporation, Japan's principal telecommunications provider, to supply advanced Wi-Fi products for the world's first and largest "instant on" Wi-Fi access and mobile data offload service.
With over 32 million mobile subscribers, KDDI is leveraging advanced carrier Wi-Fi technology, pioneered by Ruckus Wireless, to offload mobile data traffic from its cellular network while providing subscribers with seamless, high-speed wireless access throughout Japan.
Subscribers of KDDI's packet flat rate plans can now use the new KDDI "au Wi-Fi SPOT" service free of charge with their au Android smartphones in over 10,000 locations initially, scaling to 100,000 locations by March 2012. With no tedious, manual configuration of the phone, KDDI subscribers can automatically access and be authenticated to KDDI au Wi-Fi hotspots using credentials embedded within each phone over highly secured and encrypted connections.
"Wi-Fi is clearly at the top of the list for service providers around the world looking for new ways to increase cellular capacity," said Selina Lo, president and CEO of Ruckus Wireless. "KDDI has taken a truly innovative approach to building a heterogeneous network that combines macro cellular technology, femtocells, WiMAX and Wi-Fi to address the exponential growth of wireless data traffic."
Lo noted that innovative service providers face a number of issues as they look to support the aggressive smartphone rollouts. Legacy macro-cell architectures cannot provide density of coverage for today's demanded applications such as access to rich media and social media networks. This translates into evolved network requirements that include:
* varying traffic demands and traffic mix,
* constantly changing RF environments,
* capacity limitations driving smaller cell deployments,
* challenges in providing indoor coverage and
* difficulties in acquiring sites where equipment can be installed.
With Wi-Fi embedded in virtually every mobile Internet device, common hotspot services have become an important component of effective coverage for today's service providers worldwide that offer smartphones. Wi-Fi hotspots are a quick and cost-effective way for mobile operators to inject wireless capacity in areas of high usage, thereby alleviating the pressures on 3G/4G infrastructures caused by the explosion of mobile Internet data traffic.
However, the lack of integration between Wi-Fi hotspots and cellular networks has hampered operators from delivering a seamless and consistent subscriber experience to the exploding population of smartphone and tablet users. KDDI has solved this problem, through introducing innovative bundled plans that include both 3G and Wi-Fi traffic in a variety of options. The charging is unified, and access to both 3G and Ruckus-driven Wi-Fi networks is a single seamless experience for KDDI's customers.
More Devices, More Users and More Traffic Drive Infrastructure Changes
"Dramatic changes in customer behavior and the related growth in mobile data traffic from the use of smartphones are having a profound impact on user expectations, service delivery and network infrastructure build-out," said Tadashi Egawa, head of KDDI's Service Development and Wi-Fi Business Strategy Department.
The new national Wi-Fi infrastructure initiative is part of KDDI's larger 3M strategy (multi-device, multi-use, multi-network) to deliver a wide range of innovative content and services over the best network anytime, anywhere to the preferred user device. The heart of this strategy is tackling Japan's explosive data growth from the use of smartphones, tablets and other Wi-Fi-enabled devices.
The largest mobile data offloading service on record, KDDI's new Wi-Fi overlay leverages its national WiMAX network to backhaul data traffic from each Wi-Fi hotspot to KDDI's mobile network core. Each Ruckus ZoneFlex™ Wi-Fi access point (AP) connects wirelessly to KDDI's WiMAX infrastructure – speeding deployment times and service availability, cutting operational expense and eliminating the need to provision fixed broadband access lines at each location.
"We see carrier-grade Wi-Fi products and technologies as instrumental to achieving a number of strategic objectives from enhancing the user experience to adding wireless access and capacity wherever users go, not to mention increasing the efficiency of our existing mobile infrastructure," said Egawa.
Building the World's Largest Mobile Data Offload Service
KDDI's initial focus is offloading data traffic indoors. For its first phase, KDDI is deploying more than 10,000 Ruckus ZoneFlex 7363 and 7341 dual-band 802.11 indoor access points in venues throughout Japan. A WiMAX router connected to each ZoneFlex 7300 via a USB port allows Wi-Fi traffic to be automatically backhauled over KDDI's national WiMAX network. KDDI is using Ruckus controller and network management systems to centrally manage ZoneFlex APs, and the Ruckus FlexMaster Wi-Fi system management platform to provide statistical traffic analysis, reporting and troubleshooting on a national scale.
"We selected Ruckus products and technologies because they not only outperformed competitive alternatives but were specifically designed to be easily managed and scaled to support service provider infrastructures such as ours," said Egawa. "Ruckus Wi-Fi technology is delivering much better coverage, interference mitigation and deployment flexibility that we couldn't find in any other supplier and at a cost point that enables nationwide deployment. They meet our needs and specifications for carrier grade equipment."
Smarter Wi-Fi for Service Providers
The demand for capacity and speed is driving mobile operators toward a heterogeneous network strategy — augmenting macro cellular networks with many smaller radios in high-density locations. While the technologies for large-scale heterogeneous networks are still in development, operators can now put in motion a deployment process with Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi.
One of the practical challenges in small cell deployments is site acquisition, a costly and time-consuming process, and literally a battleground for land grab. By deploying Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi APs today, operators can quickly establish their small cell site footprint. Future radio deployments can make use of the same mounting positions, leasing arrangement, power and backhaul systems already in place.
The Ruckus Mobile Wi-Fi portfolio brings together the complete collection of indoor and outdoor Ruckus ZoneFlex APs that can be centrally managed. All ZoneFlex APs are equipped with patented BeamFlex™ smart antenna technology for automatic interference avoidance, critical in assuring performance, range and reliability in unlicensed spectrum operations. ZoneFlex outdoor access points are delivered in form factors that are aesthetically suitable for street-level deployment and packaged for single pole-climber installation.