SpiderCloud looks at DAS alternative for smaller enterprises

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SpiderCloud Wireless, a startup backed by $40 million in venture capital, is targeting the enterprise in-building coverage and capacity market, offering what it calls a more cost effective alternative to distributed antenna systems.

The startup, based in Santa Clara, Calif., has developed a wireless platform that it said enables operators to deploy and manage customized 3G, 4G and WiFi networks to deal with the influx of personally liable smartphones employees are bringing into the enterprise. SpiderCloud calls the platform an enterprise radio access network (E-RAN), and promises a quantum leap in performance and cost reductions compared with DAS. Femtocells are still nascent and face a scaling problem in the enterprise.

"The current situation IT managers deal with is smartphone penetration, which is 60 to 70 percent, and much higher than any other market," said Ronny Haraldsvik, vice president of marketing with SpiderCloud. "Operators know they have a capacity problem, and they need to offload traffic off of the macro network. But today's solutions force the enterprise to install DAS and manage it themselves."

Using SpiderCloud's solution, mobile operators will provide the coverage and capacity within local, defined areas in buildings and other structures using the E-RAN, which serves as a campus network that consists of access points set up in the most needed areas. The enterprise would not be responsible for deploying and managing the system like it would with DAS, Haraldsvik said. However, enterprises would have to make a commitment to that particular operator, which also has the opportunity to offer calling and data packages to the enterprise that are crafted for use in the enterprise.

Haraldsvik said the solution targets enterprises employing 100 to 10,000 people. These types of businesses can't afford to install a DAS and manage them themselves, but still need additional coverage and capacity for their workers, who are bringing in a high number of smartphones.

SpiderCloud's business proposition is to sell to the operator and have the operator's large business integrator partner install the infrastructure in exchange for a commitment for usage from the enterprise, Haraldsvik said. "The business case makes sense because the payback for operators is in months, not years," he said. "It's very much a business case welcomed by the operators we're working with and enterprises we're working with."

Haraldsvik said the company is in the midst of finalizing agreements with core vendors. User trials are on target for the fall, with commercial operations in early 2011. - Lynnette