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Small Cell Forum Release 6 hits the mark

smallcellforumIt takes many months for the Small Cell Forum to complete a work program. So the contents of this week's Release 6 entitled Smart Enterprise published during Mobile World Congress would have been determined quite some time ago. In a fast changing industry, I'd say they've selected the right topics and maintained their focus on the major issues of the industry today. Their key theme is Enterprise including Neutral Host and LTE-U/LAA. I spoke to Alan Law, their Chairman, to find out how their extensive guidance on best practice is being adopted.

 

Mobile Network Statistics for 2016

Femtocell SpreadsheetWhile we take some time to digest the firehose of announcements around Mobile World Congress, I thought it would be useful to review some key statistics about the current state, shape and size of the global mobile network industry.

 

Urban small cell strategy – Network Suicide or Good Business?

Good or BadIntense speculation around Sprint’s small cell network strategy has included it being termed Network Suicide. Meanwhile, Sprint shares were up almost 20% on the day of their latest earnings report. So does adopting an urban small cell strategy make for good business or signal a downturn? Sprint's large spectrum holdings and lack of fibre/wireline assets are causing a switch to NLoS Wireless backhaul, which affects their choice of RAN architecture to use traditional Small Cell rather than Cloud RAN.

 

Unlimited allowances reduce total traffic. Really?

t mobile binge onThere’s been quite a surprising result from T-Mobile USA’s unusual tactic to offer free, unlimited video streaming to its customers. Traffic levels are said to have reduced in some cases, very much counter to intuitive expectations. We ask why, investigate what’s happening and consider some of the wider implications.

 

Verizon CFO switches investment from spectrum to 4G and small cells

verizon wireless logo 150One announcement you may have missed late last year was a statement by Verizon Wireless CFO, Fran Shammo, in response to suggestions that Verizon would run out of capacity due to lack of spectrum. We reported this in our newsletter but wanted to highlight it further. It’s important because it crystallises the medium term investment strategy that we can expect to see worldwide – moving away from just buying more spectrum to using it more efficiently.

 

So what follows after the Spectrum Glut?

OverstockedThe introduction of LTE has been a profitable time for the cellular infrastructure industry. A large part of that is down to large new swathes of spectrum being made available rather than purely higher spectral efficiency or faster headline data rates. Some operators almost seem to have suffered from indigestion as they equip their networks to take full advantage. Once the quick returns from low hanging fruit have been gained, it will be the smarter decisions that determine longer-term competitive advantage.

 

Operator Mergers, Acquisitions and Small Cells

Mergers and AcquisitionsThe 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.

 

Small Cell End of Year Report 2014

ReportCardIt'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.

 

Innovation differentiates commercial performance for Mobile Operators worldwide

bright-ideaHow should mobile operators translate the growth in mobile data to increased revenue and profitability? Some are clearly doing much better than others. Many are simply holding on while a few are major winners or losers.

Industry analysts STL partners released some interesting insights about how mobile operators commercial differentiation. I'd not seen this format before, which emphasises just how far apart some are. Separate charts are shown for US and European markets. They've published a shorter article as a teaser to their full report. The results illustrate how much dramatic market impact one European disruptor can have.

Adding capacity through additional spectrum not always as straightforward as small cells

Spectrum-ChoiceIn the long term, the industry generally seems to be agreed that Small Cells are the way to go – almost every operator has these on their roadmap – but they've not taken off in volume yet. Operators continue to shout loudly for more spectrum to be made available, but this isn't always the easy option to deploy quickly and effectively that it might seem.

Alcatel-Lucent reinvigorate Enterprise Small Cells


enterprise-building-technicianAlcatel-Lucent are often associated with urban small cells, where they have become synonymous with the term Metrocell. But they are one of the few end-to-end suppliers that address the whole small cell spectrum including residential and enterprise sectors. We looked into some of their recent changes and future direction.

Regional airports need Small Cells

Low Cost AirlineLike many people in the northern hemisphere, part of my summer break was spent at a small regional airport. I watched the arrival and departure of a low cost airline flight and tracked impact on the cellular network during the turnaround. It's a case which is crying out for a simple and cost effective technical solution, and one which a small cell would be ideally qualified to resolve. We discuss some of the practical aspects which might be holding back wider deployment.

Unlocking the Enterprise for Small Cells – a new White Paper

Enterprise UnlockedIn-building cellular service quality appears to have been noticeably degrading over the last year. This is apparent from an increase in dropped calls, generally poor voice connections (especially uplink), intermittent indoor data connectivity, with text messages - even incoming calls - not getting through.

Are we in danger of confusing and complicating the scope of Small Cells?

question mazeAs the Small Cell industry prepares for the industry's annual get together in London at Small Cell World Summit, it seems that the scope and complexity of what the term "Small Cell" means is being wrenched and stretched almost beyond recognition.

We consider if this is this a good or a bad thing, and what the industry could do about it?

Wi-Fi and Small cells dominate future capacity growth for mobile networks

Cell Tower AntennaFew new macrocell towers are being built these days. In some countries it's quite the opposite, with site sharing agreements driving consolidation and decommissioning of duplicate adjacent sites. Some are being added to satisfy pockets of poor coverage, especially in rural areas. There are a few regions of the world where further macrocell rollout continues makes good business sense. A further complication is regulatory restrictions on total cellsite RF emission levels, which in at least one country renders the majority of cellsites unsuitable for 4G rollout.

Mobile and Small Cell Industry Statistics. Did you know just how big the market is?

StatisticsLarge numbers are often bandied about when it comes to the mobile telecom industry. Impressive growth rates, billion dollar market sizes, and huge investments are often quoted. But it can be easy to get this out of context. We recap some industry statistics and try to get things into proportion.

You might even find the answers include a few surprises.

Double deprivation of limited communication in rural areas

Limited QuantityI have a friend who lives in a village in a rural area of the UK. Wireline broadband service is fairly poor, with very low data rates via DSL. Despite UK wired broadband rollout being ahead of plan, those in outlying rural areas can be limited to data rates of 100Kbps or less which isn't compatible with many of today's image intensive websites. Being limited to one voice call per line means sharing it between business and domestic use which can be awkward.

Skip the 5G hype and invest in more Small Cell methodology

5GEuropean leaders have recently admitted that the region is losing out on the race to adopt 4G/LTE. Their solution is to win the race for 5G. I doubt this will solve the immediate issue and wonder if 5G should be less about additional technology steps and more about how the industry operates.

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    Residential

    Residential

    A significant number of users continue to report poor mobile coverage in their homes. There will always be areas which are uneconomic for mobile operator to reach. They range from rural areas

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    Enterprise

    Enterprise

    The term Enterprise addresses any non-residential in-building including hotels, convention centres, transport hubs, offices, hospitals and retail outlets. It's not just intended for businesses to

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    Urban

    Urban

    Urban small cells (sometimes also named metrocells) are compact and discrete mobile phone basestations, unobstrusively located in urban areas. They can be mounted on lampposts, positioned on the

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    Rural

    Rural

    A rural small cell is a low power mobile phone base station designed to bring mobile phone service to small pockets of population in remote rural areas. These could be hamlets, small villages or

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