Indoor coverage for multiple operators can be provided today with separate operator-specific networks or expensive Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS), none of which is very scalable. NH LTE small cells are a cost-effective alternative by providing extended coverage for multiple operators through a single small cell (or a cluster of small cells). A NH small cell can serve subscribers from different operators without the need for extra hardware.
To minimize changes to current design, the NH small cell architecture can reuse existing interfaces (STa and SWu) that operators have deployed for WiFi interworking. This also reduces the need for extra interoperability testing between the NH Network (NHN) and the operator’s network.
UEs from various operators can be authenticated through their respective operators’ AAA while directly connected to the NH small cell. In this case, the UE would still maintain the primary LTE context with the primary network. As these users move in and out of the NHN and hand over between the NHN and their respective operators’ networks, service continuity is maintained.
The NH architecture allows latency-sensitive applications to maintain the necessary QoS when a user is connected to an NH small cell. The phone will connect to the operator’s ePDG through an IPSec tunnel that goes through the NHN. Cellular quality voice service can be provided to the user.
Changes to user devices to better support the NH architecture are currently being pursued in various standards forums.