An Exclusive Interview with small cell maker Parallel Wireless’ Co-Founder Rajesh Mishra

Recently we wrote about how signal boosters and small cells could eliminate telecom connectivity issues in India. The small cells deployed by British Carrier EE mentioned in the article were made by Parallel Wireless, a US company founded by Indians! Earlier this month Parallel Wireless won three recognitions –

  1. The micro-network technology deployed by EE won the award for Leading Lights “Most innovative wireless service”
  2. Small Cell Forum’s “Excellence in rural deployment”
  3. Named as “Fierce15” Startup of 2015 by Fierce Wireless

parallel

Today we bring to you an exclusive interview with Rajesh Mishra, the co-founder of Parallel Wireless. The three main issues faced by Indian consumers were outlined and we sought to know if Parallel Wireless’ solutions could resolve them –

  1. Ever increasing call drops which are not just limited to remote areas but even happens in cities
  2. Slower speeds than promised on 3G / 4G data networks
  3. Indoor and rural connectivity woes

The interview covers questions like complexity of setup, ease of deployment and integration with existing technologies, future readiness, radiation worries etc.

Hi Rajesh, greetings from TelecomTALK. Before we start, can you tell a little bit about yourself and Parallel Wireless?
Hello, after graduating from IIT Roorkee in 1993, I landed in the United States and worked with several brands associated with wireline, wireless and cable industry. In 2012 along with my other co-founders we established Parallel Wireless with a vision to re-imagine the Radio Access Networks (RAN) and build solutions that will enable and accelerate the long term transition from today’s 4G LTE to tomorrow’s 5G cellular networks.

Rajesh-Mishra-Parallel-Wireless Accepting Leading Lights Award

Rajesh Mishra Accepting Leading Lights Award

What makes your products ‘Converged Wireless System’ and LAC – LTE Access Controller different from a conventional base station?
The ‘Converged Wireless System’ or CWS as we call it is a high-capacity, 3GPP-compliant, carrier-grade, multi-RAT node that leverages the latest silicon to deliver more capabilities from commodity components. Available in different form factors including outdoor and in-vehicle, CWS delivers instant, reliable and cost-effective coverage anywhere and features:

  • 3G, 4G/LTE and Wi-Fi
  • Built-in flexible backhaul: Fiber, Ethernet, LTE Backhaul, multi-radio mesh Software-Defined Networking (SDN) backhaul enabled by LTE Access Controller for enabling a mesh RAN.

The combination of CWS + LAC makes networks self-configurable, self-optimizing, and self-healing. LAC is the “secret sauce”, a network orchestrator that makes it all happen.. These Self-Organizing capabilities ensure that CWS learns the network usage patterns and adjusts the RF power accordingly.

The installation is really easy which needs only intermediate level skills to assemble and takes less than an hour. Now unlike the several base stations which you see on rooftops in Indian cities which often require complicated setup that include diesel gensets, air-conditioning equipment etc., CWS needs no special arrangement. Conventional tubular batteries used in home inverters can power it in case of power outages. This essentially means massive savings in terms of installation time and subsequent costs.

Wow, that sounds interesting. Can you elaborate on the coverage aspect?
The primary application of our solutions are for rural and suburban network extension, urban infill and urban capacity enhancement. This essentially means more units to cover the same area which is otherwise covered by a large BTS. However, this also means lesser number of subscribers per cell and that implies better connectivity, especially indoors and improved data speeds. As noted earlier the self-organizing, self-optimizing and self-healing capabilities makes things only better. With ours being a real-time Hybrid SON (Self-Organizing Network) , when new cells are added, the LAC manages automatic configuration and intercell interference. In the traditional SON model this requires additional configuration.

Will it mean significant Capex for operators to switch to your solutions?
No, operators would not have to make a complete switch to use our solutions. Parallel Wireless’ systems are designed for HetNet which means they can work and integrate well in a multi-vendor environment. Interoperability and network extensibility is the key here. Operators need to identify the gaps in their network (which we can help them in doing) and leverage our solutions.

While India is waking up to the importance of increasing number of cell towers for better connectivity, the concerns on radiation hazards have been growing. Can you comment if  Parallel’s CWS offers any advantage here?
The radiation concerns have been growing all over the world. We are in a unique position to tackle that. As I mentioned we use several smaller units to cover a larger area unlike a single powerful BTS that covers a few kilometer radius. You can compare this with your home Wi-Fi router which has a short range of few meters Vs. FM radio station transmitter with coverage of few kilometers. Smaller, low powered units essentially means lesser radiation fears.

Are your systems future-ready / future-proof?
Yes, they are. Our solutions are software-based (leveraging SDN – Software-Defined Networking and NFV – Network Function Virtualization) and are designed to support the next generation HetNets and help to evolve to 5G standards.

What is the key differentiating factor of Parallel Wireless when compared to big names in the industry – Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia Networks etc.?
Our solutions are designed for simplicity. Ours provides instant On LTE network which can be up and running in less than an hour. Systems Integrators have a key role to play in the deployment of network solutions from major vendors which often takes months to complete. We are trying to eliminate this complexity.

We were impressed by the video that showcased a rural small cell that could be setup in a matter of hours.  What makes Parallel Wireless rural connectivity special?
Our network uses the HetNet mesh model which means there would be multiple CWS units that connect to a main CWS gateway. The multiple CWS units operate independently of each other and communicate with a macro cell through the CWS gateway which manages backhaul. Again each CWS is self-configured and is managed by LAC. The noteworthy fact is that there is no optic-fiber network involved which implies instant network roll-outs. In a normal scenario, optic-fiber cabling needs to be done to remote areas to establish connectivity.Parallel-Wireless-EE- HetNet-Architecture

We thank Rajesh for answering our queries and Ms. Eugina Jordan, Director of Marketing Communications, Parallel Wireless for coordinating this meeting.

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[…] Its solutions are especially geared to address the rural market. “Technical factors, like backhaul availability, make rural deployment tough. Rural networks require low-cost, low-maintenance and easy to deploy solutions. The telcos need to downsize the total cost structure, from RAN, tower, and backhaul to power and site rental fees, to take advantage of the rural opportunity,” says Rajesh Mishra, Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Parallel Wireless. (See: An Exclusive Interview with small cell maker Parallel Wireless Co-founder, Rajesh Mishra.) […]

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