Augmenting and Enhancing Mobile Network Operator (MNO) Coverage with Private Wireless

As enterprise customers look to address their operational needs centered around IoT, IIoT, and other edge use cases, they are also seeing the need to augment and fill gaps in their Mobile Network Operator (MNO) coverage.

This is especially true when it comes to MNO connectivity in areas where it is weak or non-existent, such as underground parking lots or other areas where employees and visitors need to have MNO connectivity. This need for connectivity is not just for MNO subscribers to make phone calls or send text messages, but it also enables them to leverage MNO services such as 911 emergency calling.

While MNOs allow their subscribers to roam on to each other’s networks via Internet Protocol (IP) Packet eXchange (IPX) Networks leveraging roaming agreements, today this classic roaming paradigm is not available for MNO subscriber devices with MNO SIM cards to roam on to private networks.

Another legacy solution for extending MNO connectivity indoors within enterprises is a Distributed Antenna System (DAS).

This solution brings in multiple MNO signals into a building and distributes the MNO signals over a DAS across the building. However, this solution is expensive because the signal source part of the solution must be replicated for each MNO that has to be supported. It is also quite complex, and enterprise customers are faced with high maintenance and refresh costs with DAS.

A more elegant and cost-effective solution that is gaining fast traction is the use of a private network as a neutral host. In this solution, the private network serves as a common access network that seamlessly connects to many operator networks. This solution leverages Multi-Operator Core Network (MOCN) technology, often implemented as a MOCN gateway that connects on one side to the CBRS-based private wireless radios and on the other side connects to multiple operator core networks in a secure manner.

When an MNO device comes into the coverage range of a CBRS private network that the enterprise has deployed, the device recognizes this private network as an extension of its MNO network. It can connect through the private network via the neutral host MOCN gateway to the MNO core, where it is authenticated and served by its own MNO. In this manner, the customer gets a private network for private data connectivity for its IoT and enterprise applications, while at the same time allowing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) MNO devices belonging to visitors and employees to connect to the MNO networks through the same network to avail of MNO services. Note that this cost-effective option to extend MNO coverage via a private network serving as a neutral host is applicable to both indoor and outdoor areas of poor or non-existent MNO coverage.

Federated Wireless is bringing this capability to some of its customers today with a private network plus a certified neutral host gateway solution. We ensure that the neutral host gateway solution is right-sized to meet the customers’ needs in terms of the number of devices that need to be supported for MNO connectivity.

In conclusion, enterprise customers are seeing the need to augment and fill gaps in their MNO coverage, especially in areas where it is weak or non-existent. The use of a private network as a neutral host is an elegant and cost-effective solution that provides connectivity to MNO subscribers in a secure manner, while at the same time allowing employees and authorized devices to connect to the private network for data access. This solution is emerging as a cheaper, less complex option than DAS while providing greater ROI with private connectivity.

Ready to learn more about neutral host? Check out our recent webinar, Private 5G Innovation: The Future of Neutral Host Networks.

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