Insight: Checking in on Small Cells

Posted by Mae Kowalke on Wednesday, April 08, 2015 with No comments

When exploring the business case for deploying small cells for urban, residential, and rural areas, what key considerations should be part of the discussion? Kelly Hill, an editor RCRWireless, recently suggested five factors: ease of deployment, return on investment, impact to the overall network, timing of deployment, and indoor vs. outdoor focus. 

Those factors are just a subset of ideas explore in RCR Wireless' recent special report on small cell testing; another set of recommendations to come out of that is a list of resources for learning more about small cell deployment and the technology's technical progress. The list includes Small Cell Forum's library of information, Next Generation Mobile Network Alliance technical documents, and results from ETSI's plugfests, among other.
Another question worth asking is: how's the small cell market doing? Answer: pretty good. 

As of mid-March, about 75 mobile network operators have deployed small cells, with approximately 10 million units shipped (Small Cell Forum figures). Shipments are expected to double during 2015.

All those small cells shipped implies that operators are using this technology to increase the capacity and reliability of their networks. And, that's true. Small cells are playing an increasingly integral role in microwave backhaul network deployments, for example. These deployments are complex, however; in fact, as RCR Wireless did recently in a Reader Forum article, you can compare small cell backhaul to a road construction project.  

As growth in the small cell market growth unfolds, it seems likely this technology will start showing up in more and more places. Like where? Light Reading recently suggested a list of "Unusual Places to Stick a Small Cell," including the great pyramids, Alcatraz, and Great Wall of China. Anyone ready for a tour of the Seven Wonders?


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