Nokia bring urban small cells to New York

new yorkOur 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.

Traffic growth isn’t just forecast – it’s here today

Data consumption continues to increase and shows little sign of abating. Our recent survey of cellular traffic reports and forecasts provides increased granularity about the types of traffic and associated peak times of day.

Storing/backup traffic (such as your smartphone’s photos) peaks in late in the night (6am) while streaming and gaming are evening activities. Most cellular data is now LTE (69%), video (60%) and quite fast (6.8Mbps average). There is less of a distinct busy hour of traffic demand and a more constant high level of demand throughout the day.

Customer expectations remain high and operators continue to innovate to keep up with demand.

Nokia believes that a combination of optimisation of existing sites and densification with small cells provides the best business case. Optimisation involved making best use of spectrum assets and the latest LTE features. Densification related to rolling out an underlying layer of small cells at street level.

New York, New York

One major US operator was concerned about falling customer satisfaction levels in major cities and engaged Nokia to resolve the problem.

An initial trial to prove their approach works was conducted in Manhattan, New York.

A total of 192 Nokia FlexiZone Micro and MiniMacro small cells were installed to serve the street level. These are compact and lightweight enough to be suitable for mounting on light-poles, yet fully functional with feature parity and similar processing capacity of smaller macrocells. The maximum 2x5W RF power is more than enough when installed in such a dense configuration, but in some cases, the operator preferred the macro-like 2x20W of the Flexi Zone MiniMacro to cover from the outside, important buildings like large shops, hotel lobbies, tourist locations, etc.

New York from above

Backhaul

Having interviewed several fibre companies in the past, I would have expected dedicated fibre runs to each small cell installation. While that is possible (and some operators to prefer that choice bearing in mind a future 5G upgrade with high backhaul bandwidth requirements) this can add significant cost and deployment time compared to wireless alternatives.

Nokia were able to use many of the existing rooftop macrocell sites as backhaul hubs for the new small cell installations. This speeded up the project timescale considerably, and does not preclude upgrading any site to fibre in the future.

Replicated across 30 key cities nationwide

This first trial proved so successful, propelling the operator to the number 1 place in terms of average datarate in New York City, that the approach has been copied in many major cities across the US, with more to follow.

Measureable results have been very good. San Francisco average download speeds were 35 Mbps compared with an industry average of just 22 Mbps.

While the exact configuration may not match every city worldwide, the proof of Nokia’s approach can be found in the improved measurable customer satisfaction levels. Inevitably that feeds through to the bottom line.

San Francisco


Download the full case study on this approach from Nokia’s website

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Comments   

#1 David Turner said: 
Interesting David. Re locations and backhaul, you mention "Nokia were able to use many of the existing rooftop macrocell sites as backhaul hubs for the new small cell installations." That implies they were either installed at the existing locations, or there was a microwave backhaul component to the new small-cell site? I'm assuming the 192 small-cells weren't all deployed on street poles like the City of London deployment?
0 Quote 2018-02-08 11:02
 
#2 ThinkSmallCell said: 
@David: Good question. You are correct that there was a mix of maximising existing sites alongside installing new street level small cells, which is how typically most operators approach it. This case study differs slightly from the City of London one because New York included both aspects within the same project, where in London there was a separate "underlay" of street level (mostly lamppost mounted) small cells with their own independent backhaul. Wireless microwave links were used in both for backhaul - something that surprised me more in New York where there is plenty of fibre in the streets already. This speeds up deployment considerably and does not preclude adding fibre later should the need arise.
0 Quote 2018-02-09 08:50
 
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