A new book just published provides a simple introduction on how to build your own GSM small cell, using freely available open source hardware and software. Aimed primarily for use in the lab or in remote/unserved rural communities, a simple GSM site can deliver voice, text and data services using standard handsets. We review the current state of open source projects and look at what's available today.
Reading some commentators' blogs and opinion pieces, you'd think small cells are consigned to the graveyard. All you need to stay connected are numerous Wi-Fi access points supplemented by a few outdoor macrocells. Does this fit with reality or are we witnessing some "over-enthusiasm" from Wi-Fi proponents?
I asked Nick Johnson, CTO of ip.access, to spell out the key technical differences between Wi-Fi and Small Cells. These help clarify some of the limitations of both systems and demonstrate there is room for both.
Indoor location services promise to become a major growth opportunity, with retail sector revenues alone forecast to exceed $5 Billion by 2018. Many more applications offer increased employee or service productivity and other tangible benefits. A plethora of different technologies have been developed to achieve higher accuracy and reliability required. This is particularly relevant indoors, where Enterprise small cells could capitalise on this need, serving both requirements for location service and connectivity simultaneously.
There are many different public safety radio networks used by multiple first responder services today – fire, ambulance, police etc. In the US, each may have its own frequency (VHF or UHF) and dedicated handsets. Europe has adopted TETRA, a common standard similar to GSM. One problem with these specialist systems is that the relatively low volume of product means they are expensive and new features are developed slowly. Handsets can cost $3,000 yet provide basic voice and text only.
In this second of two articles, Andy Sutton, Principal Network Architect at EE, walked around central London with me. He pointed out the practicalities of Small Cell backhaul for our urban streets. As the network densifies, more street-level small cell sites will be needed. Andy explains how these will be connected back into the network, and clarifies the technical requirements for this rollout.
When we often consider how cellular networks can adapt to growing capacity and coverage demands, Wi-Fi clearly has a role to play. With the launch of Voice over Wi-Fi and the migration of services towards an all-encompassing IP model, we ask how that impacts small cell take-up. We spoke with Fran Heeran, SVP for IP Communications Business at Alcatel-Lucent for his take on this topic.
Fran looks after both fixed and mobile aspects of carrier and enterprise IP Communications, which leverages IMS technology. He's not part of their Small Cell division, so provides a slightly different perspective.
The DAS and Small Cells industry segments can often seem to be at war with each other. Conference, organisations and products have been renamed, sometimes causing more confusion than clarification. So I spoke with Ken Sandfeld, EVP at SOLiD, to gain a better perspective of where the DAS industry is today and where it's headed. He shared his experience of that market, explains the terminology and believes DAS has a growing future opportunity.
It's that time of year again, when we (and many other analysts) reflect back at the year gone by and look ahead at what developments await us next year.
First, let's put ourselves in the spotlight and revisit our predictions from December 2013, see if we got them right, and look at how the Small Cell industry might evolve next year.
Telephone briefings and conference presentations are very useful learning opportunities, but nothing quite beats a site visit where the practical issues can be explained and discussed. I walked around several city centre areas of London with Andy Sutton, Principal Network Architect for EE. He showed me their current physical installations, explained how they will evolve and pointed out enormous range of potential sites for future urban small cells. In this first of two articles, we look at the macro, micro and small cell sites that will make up the dense urban HetNet of the future.