Wireless Network Operators identify small cell challenges and buildout plans

Introduction:

Infonetics Research released excerpts from its 2013 Small Cell Coverage Strategies: Global Service Provider Survey, for which Infonetics interviewed wireless, incumbent, and competitive operators around the world about their small cell buildout plans.

SMALL CELL SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS:
 •83% of respondent operators have deployed small cells, an increase of 11% from Infonetics’ 2012 survey
•78% of respondents rate “multimode” and “seamless integration with macrocellular networks” as very important small cell features
•Small cell backhaul staged a comeback as a barrier to deploying small cells in this year’s survey, but overall barriers are waning with the exception of outdoor site acquisition, which remains challenging
•Respondents don’t expect small cells to take the place of distributed antenna systems (DAS) anytime soon, instead viewing the technologies as complementary
•New alternatives to small cells like Ericsson’s Radio Dot System hold the potential to reduce the need for DAS in very specific applications such as medium and large enterprises
•A majority of survey respondents say they will definitely require self-organizing networks (SON) and coordinated multipoint (CoMP) to optimize network performance while diminishing the need for units

                                                  

 

ANALYST NOTES:
“As evidenced by our latest small cell study, operators are seriously gearing up small cells for significant macrocellular network enhancements,” says Stéphane Téral, principal analyst for mobile infrastructure and carrier economics at Infonetics Research.

“Since service providers will be adding small cells to existing macro sites in very specific parts of their networks, there’s good reason to believe the total number of small cells will surpass that of macrocell sites, but definitely not by large proportions,” continues Téral. “Operators need to look at their spectrum resources and apply them as the need for capacity increases. This means selecting the right tool in the coverage and capacity toolbox.”


From a previous Infonetics report on Small Cells:  http://techblog.comsoc.org/2013/10/04/infonetics-small-cell-market-ramp-wont-happen-this-year

“The large service providers remain committed to their small cell deployment plans, but the pace of deployment is much slower than expected due to a sad reality: Small cell and macrocell rollouts share nothing in common,” explains Stéphane Téral, principal analyst for mobile infrastructure and carrier economics at Infonetics Research.  Téral continues: “Each technology requires its own internal business processes, which have been in place for decades with macrocells but have to be built from the ground up for small cells taking into consideration things like footfall, building dimensions, backhaul availability, and wireless technology. There is no cookie-cutter template for small cell deployments!” Co-author of the report Richard Webb, directing analyst for microwave and carrier WiFi at Infonetics, adds: “Given that service providers are in the process of retooling their plan of attack, we’re not expecting the small cell ramp to happen in 2013.”

                                                                      


SMALL CELL SURVEY SYNOPSIS:

For its 28-page small cell survey, Infonetics interviewed independent wireless, incumbent, and competitive operators from Europe, North America, Asia, and Latin America about their small cell buildout plans. The study helps manufacturers and operators better understand the use cases for small cells, the number and types of small cells needed, frequency bands required, and best-suited architectures.

To buy the report, contact Infonetics: http://www.infonetics.com/contact.asp


Separately, Amdocs says that mobile operators say that the cost of rolling out small cells is currently around five times too high. Amdocs presented a new solution designed to speed up small cell deployment and cut costs.  “Existing planning tools are not up to the job. They lack automation,” said Phil Bull, product marketing manager at Amdocs.

As it stands, designing and rolling out the backhaul for small cells can take weeks, but operators need to reduce this to just a few days or even a single day, he said. “It’s a complicated challenge to do it manually.”

Amdocs offers an inventory-centric solution that can help operators automatically generate a network design that reduces both cost and complexity.  “[The solution] is being rolled out now,” Bull said. Amdocs is working with pilot customers in North America, where the small cells market is more advanced than in many other markets.

http://www.totaltele.com/view.aspx?ID=483930


Video: Manage Signaling Impact of Small Cells on LTE network:

Alcatel-Lucent categories: metro, enterprise and residential small cells http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mupyGC4r4FI

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