Giving Israeli Cell Phone Providers a Hearing Aid

Startup developed technology that lets companies listen in on dynamic network activity to help track usage.

Guy Grimland
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From time to time battles by citizens against cellular antennas hit the headlines mainly cellular antennas that are located in proximity to kindergartens, schools, community centers or other places kids congregate.

Mobile service operators locate antennas according to the number of subscribers in a particular cell area.

Cellular antennas. Credit: Moti Kimche

How do they know how many subscribers there are in a particular cell area? And how do they know whether the cellular communications network in that cell area really does the work in an optimal and efficient manner? The answer in this case is apparently less known to the general public.

From time to time the cellular operator sends out several vehicles full of communications engineers who measure the radio data of the cellular phones in a particular cell area.

That is how they attempt to understand the reception strength of all the subscribers; the quality of service that each subscriber receives; what noises (barriers) exist in the cell area and which basic stations (cellular antennas) are received by the subscribers. After getting a picture of the situation, the cellular operator can calibrate the cellular network by means of mathematical models that analyze reception in the network.

The problem is that in many cases the cellular operator is blind when it comes to what is actually happening. It is incapable of providing a true picture of the situation because it is unable to analyze cellular devices that are not broadcasting during those moments, like iPhones using the Internet. All this may change now thanks to a new technological solution by an Israeli startup called Intucell.

The Israeli firm has developed a technological solution that is able to provide a precise picture of the reception situation in a certain area of cellular subscribers, and to change the cellular network in such a way that it will support the changes taking place in real time.

In that way Intucell actually enables the cellular operator to switch the configuration of the cellular network in a certain area to a more dynamic configuration, as opposed to a fixed state, which changes only from time to time, usually in the wake of customer complaints (and after the vehicles of the communication engineers are sent to a certain area to carry out monitoring inspections to discover the reasons for the interruption of service).

Intucell is the brain child of two Israeli entrepreneurs: Rani Wellingstein, formerly of Celltick, and Ido Susan.

Wellingstein, who is CEO, told TheMarker that the unique nature of Intucells technological solution lies in the precise picture of the situation that the firm provides to cellular operators.

In effect we are removing the communications engineer from the process of daily decision making and enabling him to focus on planning expansions of the network. Our recommendations are so precise that they make it possible to carry out changes in real time without the intervention of engineers.

To do that, the firm links up to Operation Support Systems (OSS) in the center of the cellular operators network using a standard connection (not integrative activity). The firm carries out very fine changes in the cellular network and immediately receives feedback, without affecting the subscribers or network performance in the cell area.

In that way the company goes from one cell area to the next.

The moment that there is overload at a certain point, Intucell can balance the loads by calibrating the coverage area of sites and overlapping regions.

The advantage of Intucell lies in the fact that it works automatically and dynamically, without causing a loss of reception to subscribers in the cell area. The Raanana-based company has 18 employees and is engaged in its first round of raising capital.

At the moment were working on developing the first generation of our product, which has already been developed, sold and implemented with Israeli cellular operators and abroad, Wellingstein said. We are now working on developing the second generation, which will provide the cellular operator with broader management abilities and a balancing of loads among various types of technologies: LTE and UMTS. The situation at present among the cellular operators is that more data than voice goes through the networks. ... The situation is the same among other cellular operators the world over, who are required to double network capacity on an annual basis.

Wellingstein says that means cell networks intended for transmitting voices will need to upgrade without any significant increase in revenue.

The cellular network today is growing quickly and is far more dynamic; today every bus in London, and soon too in Israel and the world over, is an Internet cafe on wheels, he said. Cellular operators the world over, and in Israel as well, understand that they have to change the way in which they run the network, and they need automatic tools that are capable of reacting to overloads dynamically and of running the network, which is growing by the day, with patterns of use that are changing by the moment.

Wellingstein said his firm is paving the way to automatic application by expanding the networks field of vision to all the subscribers, and for the first time guarantees dynamic network management without any negative effect whatsoever on the coverage of subscribers in remote areas.