Small Cells for Cable MSOs: Big Backhaul Impact

Posted by Mae Kowalke on Friday, December 04, 2015 with No comments

The much-anticipated small cell era has finally begun in earnest, and cable MSOs are playing a starring role by leveraging their technologies, infrastructure, and fiber linesand flexibilityto support backhaul for small cell networks. Despite the deployment challenges involved, this technology has the potential to support the rapid growth of of smartphones and mobile data traffic, and the emergence of 4G/LTE (and soon 5G) wireless networks, by boosting coverage and capacity, and maintaining or even enhance subscriber quality of service (QoS) without breaking the bank or requiring new cell towers and fiber lines. 

Cable providers can also leverage their hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) plant to deliver backhaul in residential areas and neighborhood (local) commercial areas, where many small businesses operate. Further, cable operators have access to power and rights-of-way in these locations, allowing them to provide not only backhaul, but also valuable real estate for small-cell installations. Cable operators' field deployment expertise also enables them to offer turnkey options, including small cells as a service (SCaaS), or installation and turn-up services for MNOs, as well as such infrastructure services as physical changes, break/fix, upgrades and preventive maintenance.

Of course, this task won't be easy. Like MNOs and other backhaul providers, cable operators face a number of key challenges in deploying small-cell backhaul services, including streamlining deployment procedures for agile and efficient installations, ensuring QoS meets strict SLA requirements and overcoming regulatory hurdles. But, with the proper technologies and integration and performance assurance solutions from vendors, cable providers can readily meet those challenges head-on. 

In a Heavy Reading White paper, contributing analyst Alan Breznick explore the big topic of small cells, looking at the business opportunity for cable MSOs as well as deployment challenges and how to overcome them.

Read the full white paper for the full story, which includes a case study of Cox Communications and how it is using small cells for commercial services.