Smart tools enable cost-efficient small cell rollouts

Last month, I had the honor to present at the Small Cells Global Congress event in Berlin. I discussed whether public small cell backhaul solutions should be an evolution to the existing network architecture—or a revolution.

The predictions on small cells vary slightly, but the majority of analysts agree that growth will start in 2013 and rapidly continue that trend moving forward. Analysts expect that costs will settle at approximately 20% of the macro cell site total cost of ownership.

New challenges with small cells

With small cells, operators can cost-effectively provide relief for their mobile network capacity and coverage challenges without breaking the bank. However, operators will need innovative new aggregation devices for the small cell deployments.

The challenges for small cells differ from macro cell challenges in terms of cost, form factor, synchronization and security. In addition, the cost per connection needs to be significantly lower than for macro sites.

 Operators will roll out small cells in high-volume mass deployments, and therefore multiple operators have voiced the need for efficient operations to build a foundation for profitability. With innovative and smart tools—such as smartphone/tablet-based applications and plug-and-play tools—service providers can deploy new services faster and more easily. And they can reduce the deployment times from days to minutes by streamlining the processes.

For example, with the smartphone/tablet application, engineers visiting the sites can receive daily installation schedules, site locations or instructions (including workflow for device installation). This makes a huge difference in speeding up deployment process, reducing the need for additional site visits, and cutting down the amount of human errors.

So—should small cell backhaul be an evolution or a revolution? The answer is both.

Small cell backhaul should be an extension to existing infrastructure, utilizing established operational processes and topologies. On the other hand, there are certain areas of expertise where we can provide smarter ways of executing.

New devices will be able to provide better cost points, faster rollouts, minimal maintenance and energy efficiency. And naturally, the new small cell devices should support the wide varieties of connectivity media (microwave, copper and fiber), even in the most challenging installation environments.

Learn more about the innovative small cell backhaul solution in our new white paper, “Small Cell Backhaul: What, Why and How,” by Patrick Donegan of Heavy Reading, and take a look at “Small Cells Address the Growing Demand for Data.” Also, hear what industry analysts have to say about the future of small cells.