Concept: Taiwanese startup Ubiik has unveiled a dual-mode small unit named ‘Hermes’ that can operate as a small cell or access point. It has a full-software Release 15 radio access network optimized for private networks, providing multi-carrier standalone NB-IoT (narrow band) and standalone LTE-M (long term evolution for machines) in 1.4MHz, 3MHz, and 5MHz bandwidths, as well as VoLTE (voice over long-term evolution).
Nature of Disruption: Hermes includes LTE Cat-1 and Ethernet backhaul options that can function as a small cell with an external Evolved Packet Core (EPC) network, as well as an access point with its built-in EPC and integrated HSS (Home Subscriber Server). Its high-performance ARM-based architecture and full-software implementation allow for a wide range of applications and deployment scenarios. It can serve as an all-in-one Entry Level (embedded EPC/HSS/SGW/PGW), a small Cell built-in with prospect EPC (over S1 interface) or HSS (over S6a), as well as a dedicated community with Ubiik-hosted or on-premises core community, with roaming functionality via an S8 interface. Currently, Hermes supports FDD LTE-M and NB-IOT in bands three and eight, with a 27dBm output power. This makes it an ideal choice for private industrial or utility networks with high performance and capacity demands, as well as novel hybrid installations. Hermes could also supplement public mobile network coverage by running in guard bands in hard-to-reach regions like underground, basements, and deep inside buildings. Its support for non-anchor carriers in NB-IoT allows dedicated networks with restricted frequency availability to maximize network capacity.
Outlook: With the release of 3GPP Releases 14 and 15, cellular IoT technologies such as LTE-M and NB-IoT can now complement weightless LPWAN (low-power wide-area network) to address a wide variety of use cases. Hermes can enable innovative go-to-market techniques for water or gas utilities and service providers deploying smart meters with NB-IoT by addressing coverage gaps in basements or deep indoors while operating in the MNO’s (mobile network operators) protective band. This eliminates the need for 2G/3G or other forms of network failure and allows for more control over network setups, such as maximizing smart meter battery life through fewer repetitions and reduced network congestion. Hermes claims to have shown 200 concurrent RRC (radio resource control) connections in a single NB-IoT service, which is more than several macro stations.