Small Cells Likely Answer to Provider Capacity Problems
June 01, 2012
By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor
Wireless networks are being inundated with data demands due to the rapid adoption of devices including smartphones, tablets, broadband modems and mobile data applications. The costs and strain put on the existing networks is only expected to get worse. Providers are already struggling to keep up with the capacity restraints and looking to small cells to solve the problem.
According to Cisco's (News - Alert) recent VNI mobile traffic report, as highlighted in this IEEExplore article, growth will reach 100 percent based on the compounded annual growth rate. At that pace, operators will most likely buckle under the pressures unless they take some form of initiative to meet the demands of wireless users.
There are a number of factors contributing to the capacity bulges, including device diversification and the influx of average traffic per device due to higher quality battery life, cloud-based applications and faster connection speeds. And those networks speeds are going to jump 10 times in the next few years.
Even more troubling is the fact that mobile video, which accounts for a majority of usage already, is likely to increase more than 50 percent by 2015. To meet this demand, providers need to focus on the implementation of small cells. The deployment of a large number of these support systems will capture the growing capacity as well as offload the traffic of many unlicensed and access technologies.
The collaboration between WiFi (News - Alert) points, macro cells and small cells creates an alliance for heterogeneous networks, HetNet, to work. Using this entire solution of small cells can easily manage the current capacity issues and satisfy the end user. Small cells play a crucial role in handling this capacity dilemma created by the monstrous need for messaging, voice, data and video on wireless devices.
Small cells, cell densification and traffic backhaul will all be solutions in the tool bag of success for many operators moving to a future nearing capacity. While small cells can be added to a variety of sites, carriers and radios, the cost and time associated with adding macro cell sites isn't attractive.
Instead, providers and operators may want to just stick with what works as 3G and 4G networks persist. Cell splitting and cell densification has been working for more than two decades and experts believe that the true broadband experience revolves around this method. This is a fool proof way to increase traffic density at the small cell level using femtocells and picocells.
So as these faster and more reliable HetNet solutions reach 3G and 4G speeds, both providers and users can expect a positive answer to capacity moving forward.
Edited by Stefanie Mosca