Skip to main content

How Small Cells are Transforming Mobile Networks

Cell-based mobile networks are going through a global metamorphosis -- driven by the emergence of small cell technology deployments. Informa Telecoms & Media issued its latest quarterly small cell market status report, which highlights growing network operator interest in public access small cells as well as progress in the femtocell market.

Their report also highlights that small cells will outnumber all macrocells globally during Q4 2012 and that femtocells (aka residential small cells) alone will outnumber all macrocells shortly afterwards in Q1 2013.

In the public access market, SK Telecom has successfully started rolling out the world's first LTE small cell deployment while AT&T, Sprint and China Mobile have all committed to rolling out 3G small cell services -- AT&T and Sprint plan to launch later this year.

Verizon Wireless also announced its intention to launch LTE public access small cells in the future while Sprint is planning to roll out its first LTE designs at the end of the year. All these operators have chosen to proceed with public access services following their successful femtocell offerings.

The femtocell market was recently buoyed by the news that Telefónica plans to deploy the technology across its European and South American territories while China Mobile, the world's largest mobile operator by subscribers, has also begun its own rollout.

Additionally, Sprint, has announced it has rapidly accelerated its femtocell deployment to a total of 600,000 units -- up from 250,000 units in 2011 -- making it one of the largest rollouts across the globe.

Femtocells constitute over 80 percent of the 4.6 million small cells currently deployed globally across the 41 operator deployments -- compared to 5.6 million conventional macrocells.

By the close of 2012, there will be 6.4 million small cells -- 86 percent of which will be femtocells -- thus outnumbering the predicted 6 million macrocells worldwide. Femtocells will alone outnumber all macrocells during Q1 2013.

“We are starting to see vendor-led public access small cell R&D turning into concrete operator deployment commitments. Over the past few months numerous major operators have announced 3G and LTE public access deployment plans – SK Telecom is undoubtedly leading the charge by already rolling out LTE devices," said Dimitris Mavrakis, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.

However, it is notable that all the network operators involved in this first wave of deployments have already rolled out femtocell services, so they are already accustomed to small cell challenges and how they can be overcome.

With major mobile network service provider groups, such as Telefónica and Telenor, preparing widespread femtocell launches in the near future we can expect deployment numbers to quickly rise -- especially if they are as committed as Vodafone Group.

The reason for growing interest in public access small cells is predominantly to provide additional capacity in busy metropolitan areas. This is demonstrated in a recent Small Cell Forum study which found that even a relatively conservative small cell deployment with 4 devices per macrocell would increase typical data rates by over 300 percent and offload 56 percent of data.

However, public access small cells could also have an impact in rural and developing markets. African operator RascomStar-QAF recently announced it is trialling the technology using satellite backhaul in the Congo -- this follows ongoing trials by Vodafone UK and a rural deployment by SoftBank in Japan.

4G LTE networks are expected to be the biggest adopter of small cells, which will be predominantly deployed for capacity and coverage in high traffic public areas. The survey also found that small cells are expected to become a mass-market phenomenon in 2014 and the key challenges holding them back are network backhaul and deployment issues -- such as local electrical power and the physical placement of the devices.

Popular posts from this blog

Software-Defined Infrastructure: The Platform of Choice

As more organizations adapt to a hybrid working model for their distributed workforce, enterprise CIOs and CTOs are tasked with delivering new productivity-enabling applications, while also seeking ways to effectively reduce IT cost, complexity, and risk. Traditional IT hardware infrastructure is evolving to more software-based solutions. The worldwide software-defined infrastructure (SDI) combined software market reached $12.17 billion during 2020 -- that's an increase of 5 percent over 2019, according to the latest market study by International Data Corporation (IDC). The market grew faster than other core IT technologies. The three technology pillars within the SDI market are: software-defined compute (53 percent of market value), software-defined storage controller (36 percent), and software-defined networking (11 percent). "Software-defined infrastructure solutions have long been popular for companies looking to eliminate cost, complexity, and risk within their data cente

Digital Identity Verification Market to Reach $16.7B

As more enterprise organizations embrace the ongoing transition to digital business transformation, CIOs and CTOs are adopting new technologies that enable the secure identification of individuals within their key stakeholder communities. A "digital identity" is a unique representation of a person. It enables individuals to prove their physical identity during transactions. Moreover, a digital identity is a set of validated digital attributes and credentials for online interactions -- similar to a person's identity within the physical world. Individuals can use a 'digital ID' to be verified through an authorized digital channel. Usually issued or regulated by a national ID scheme, a digital identity serves to identify a unique person online or offline. Digital Identity Systems Market Development Complementary to more traditional forms of identification, digital identity verification systems can enhance the authenticity, security, confidentiality, and efficiency of

Global Pandemic Accelerates the Evolution of Transportation

Given the current trends across the globe, organizations that depend upon the continued growth of personal vehicle ownership will need to consider a plan-B scenario. While some companies will be able to adapt, others may find that their traditional business model has been totally disrupted. According to the latest worldwide market study by Juniper Research, Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) will displace over 2.2 billion private car journeys by 2025 -- that's rising from 471 million in 2021. Juniper believes that for MaaS to enjoy widespread adoption, subscription or on-the-go packages need to offer a strong combination of transport modes along with feasible infrastructure changes, high potential for data collection and low barriers to MaaS deployments. Mobility-as-a-Service Market Development The concept of MaaS involves the provision of multi-modal end-to-end travel services through a single platform by which users can determine the best route and price according to real-time traffic