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Guest view: Will small cells save mobile networks from the data crunch?

Jérôme Meyer | April 7, 2014
As data consumption soars and technical barriers fall, mobile operators are turning to small cells to strategically boost the capacity and coverage of saturated macro networks.

To successfully industrialise small cell networks, operators and vendors need to create a new business model and internal processes covering all aspects of small cell network architecture from exploration to implementation to execution. Waiting is not an option. Instead of building capacity at 10 percent a year, operators must now be able to intelligently scale capacity at 100 percent year-on-year.

Overcoming deployment challenges
To keep pace and differentiate on service, operators need to work with partners who have the know-how to help them quickly build institutional knowledge and capability.

Advances in products and services now make it easier for operators to confidently build small cell networks.

A wide variety of metro cells are available to cover all types of indoor and outdoor locations. This includes cells that are deployed outdoors for easy accessibility, while extending coverage and capacity to indoor locations. The arrival of multimode small cells which support 3G, 4G (LTE and LTE-A) and Wi-Fi access will make it easier for operators to smoothly transition subscribers and network infrastructure from 3G to 4G.

Metro cells integrate easily into any W-CDMA or LTE network without affecting the current RAN design. Advanced interference management features minimise any impact on macro network performance. Self-organising network algorithms automate metro cell configuration and optimisation keeping network deployment and operation costs low.

Backhaul is the largest small cell OPEX item. There is no single solution so the best strategy is to provide flexibility at optimum cost. Custom tools are available to optimise technology and topology based on traffic forecasts, civil works, power and maintenance costs. Behind the scenes, a central end-to-end solution handles all the IP management.

The introduction of all-inclusive managed services packages provides operators with a complete build, operate assist and transfer (BOT) solution. This allows them to quickly expand their networks, minimise deployment risk and gain valuable institutional knowledge and capability. Or if they prefer they can simply select the services that they need like the site certification program.

This program provides access to a trained group of suppliers who specialise in site acquisition, installation and backhaul. With comprehensive site, backhaul, installation and maintenance asset inventories established the operator can confidently build its small cells network.

Jérôme Meyer is Head of Wireless Solutions, APAC at Alcatel-Lucent.


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