Mobile demand keeps increasing as consumers everywhere take their devices on the road. Whether it’s a concert, ball game or simply out to dinner, we want to take our conversations, rich data and streaming capabilities with us. The challenge for the wireless operator is to deliver the services we want, regardless of our location. For many, it means the implementation of small cells.
A recent Voice & Data article explored this phenomenon, highlighting how traditional network infrastructure augmentation is not possible for many a network operator due to technical limitations or simple cost pressures. Even with such adjustments, the pace in which demand is growing puts more pressure on the network than what can easily be addressed. Operators need real-world solutions that are easily to deploy, inexpensive to maintain and easy to duplicate.
Small cells came on the scene as a cheaper and easier to deploy alternative to macro cells. They serve as an ideal solution for reaching customers wanting service in challenging locations. Networks have to be modernized to support increased capability features, such as active antennas, 6-sector and the LTE (News - Alert) rollout. Small cells will serve capacity demands in the short term, but an underlay topology will be needed to support the increased capacity demands in busy areas.
One analyst report shows that by the end of 2012, the Asia Pacific region will dominate the market with 44 percent of the total small cell deployments. For 2016, small cell shipments and revenue are projected to hit 741,000 and $4.69 billion, respectively. Japan and Korea have traditionally been frontrunners, although India and China command a sizeable portion and are expected to drive new growth.
Small cells deliver immediate benefits at a modest cost, enabling the wireless operator to immediately respond to subscriber demand. It also puts the site cell much closer to the user to enable higher efficiency of the system for a better and faster user experience. Sites are easily deployed and moved according to the ebb and flow in the network. It creates a true liquid network to ensure customer satisfaction.
At the same time, small cells also provide the operator with opportunities to partner with evolving Wi-Fi deployments. All modern communication devices now include Wi-Fi capability and the launch of LTE networks throughout the world is changing the dynamics in this space. True LTE handset capabilities are still early in deployment. Access to both ensures the user can enjoy the desired experience and the operator’s brand is protected.
For this benefit alone, small cell growth is continuing. RnRMarketResearch.com recently released its market study findings, which show continued growth is likely as infrastructure vendor commitments drive demand within the wireless community. Wi-Fi enabled LTE gateways using small cells are expected to reach million by 2020, representing a growth rate of nearly 122 percent.
The Dell’ (News - Alert)Oro Group suggests we are still in the beginning stages of realizing just what mobile networks can do. When high performance is the goal in the mobile network and companies continue to adopt BYOD and other mobile strategies, the demanded opportunities are expected to evolve into new revenue streams and user habits. Only time will tell exactly which direction generates the best experience for the user.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi