Around 85,000 delegates, exhibitors and press will be heading towards Barcelona for next week's Mobile World Congress. For those with interests in Small Cells, we've picked out a few topics you might want to keep a lookout for based on past experience and the latest press announcements.
The telecom industry seems to be going through a period of consolidation, with substantial mergers and acquisitions activity seen in many continents. We consider how the deployment of Small Cells and other RAN technologies affect such moves, and look at whether a small cell deployment would be an advantage or not in such cases.
While most of the industry agrees we'll need many more and smaller cellsites in our urban streets, three competing approaches include Urban small cells, Cloud-RAN (C-RAN) and Outdoor DAS (Distributed Antenna Systems). We talked to three different backhaul and fronthaul service providers seeking to address this market, contrasting their approach and learning what's on offer today.
2015 promises to be the most successful year for residential femtocell shipments, with confident forecasts in the region of 3.5 to 4 million units shipped. We consider what's driving this market segment, the reasons behind strong demand for 3G and how the transition towards LTE will affect it.
With spectrum prices rocketing in the USA recently (e.g. the AWS-3 auction exceeded $44 billion), the wireless industry is looking enviously at a couple of substantial bands allocated elsewhere. There is one hitch – there is no more pre-cleared broadband-ready spectrum. The cost and time to clear is also out of step with wireless realities. So, could they agree ways of sharing that with existing users co-operatively, and how would that spectrum be incorporated into small cells?
Many remote and rural communities don't enjoy good cellular coverage today, both in developed and developing countries. Small cells have offered a simple solution to this problem but had relatively little take-up until recently. We track some of the recent developments in this field.
Both SDN and NFV are terms strongly hyped throughout the industry at the moment. Will these replace the need for Small Cells? Are they complementary, competition or just a distraction? We ask if the promised benefits are the best way to harness evolving technology.
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.