Like most analysts, my “dance card”/schedule is filling up with prearranged meetings, my inbox is filling up with press releases and my phone is ringing with calls about all sorts of new developments. If you plan to attend Mobile World Congress yourself, or just monitor remotely, here are a few high level areas to keep in mind from a Small Cell perspective.
Over the past year, LAA development has quietly matured with several commercial network launches around the world. Offering superfast Gigabit data rates, the technology is ready to be rolled out in-building. We review the current state of the ecosystem and share some insights from SpiderCloud who have been an early pioneer of the technology.
Our recent case study of the City of London highlighted how urban small cells deployed at street level are becoming a viable solution for busy metropolitan areas. Nokia have also been active in New York and other US cities, where densification is essential to maintain high performance and customer satisfaction. We review a Nokia case study for a major US network.
There is a promised nirvana from installing a single set of CBRS small cells in a building where everybody can seamlessly access cellular service at much higher performance and lower cost. But this involves sharing the available capacity. We explore four different options to achieve that and discuss some of the implications.
Alongside paid industry analyst reports, there has been an increasing number of freely available cellular industry activity reports with five year forecasts published by major vendors and industry associations. There's a mixture of detailed statistics, differing interpretations and somewhat biassed perspectives. We offer a guided tour highlighting key attributes.
Huawei are already looking ahead at the evolution of 5G for in-building services, where 90% of wireless data is consumed. Here we can expect 100Mbps data rates, and identify the technologies and stepping stones towards that nirvana. They also foresee that in-building systems will support both low and high band 5G alongside existing 4G and earlier generation technologies.
Last month saw the Small Cell Forum issue yet another tranche of documentation and celebrated it's own 10 year anniversary. We asked David Orloff, Chairman for the past year, what to expect from the organisation in the future. He’s looking 10 years out towards a time with extensive 4G and 5G densification, strong industry collaboration through partnerships and substantial small cell take-up.
As we approach the holiday season, it’s once again time for me (and other analysts) to reflect back on the year gone by, revisit our predictions and make some new ones for the year ahead. Progress in each of the main four sectors of small cells has been quite different. There has been much hype and distraction from 5G alongside much promise for 2018 from CBRS. Equipment vendors are under more financial pressure, both large and small, and we've seen several acquisitions. The larger vendors have all become more visible with Small Cell solutions. Business and regulatory issues have set the pace rather than technology development alone.
I helped organise and chair another successful Cambridge Wireless Small Cell SIG event, this time looking at whether DAS and Enterprise Small Cells were competitors or complimentary.
Hosted by Huawei at their UK Headquarters in Reading, the event was a sellout with over 80 registrations. This style of event is very popular, attracting mostly UK industry participants including vendors, system integrators and property developers. Networking opportunities are good, partly because of the event size and partly down to the pragmatic type of delegate. It’s less about marketing gloss and more about addressing the issues.