Public access small cells to overtake macro says report

Public access small cells will outnumber macro cells by Q4 2012, according to a report from Informa Telecoms & Media.

The study highlights that Korean operator SK Telecom has successfully started rolling out the world’s first LTE small cell deployment, while AT&T, Sprint and China mobile have made commitment to 3G small cell roll-outs. Verizon Wireless has also announced its intention to launch LTE public access small cells, while Sprint has said it will roll out LTE designs at the end of the year. Telefonica also announced plans to deploy femtocells across its European and South American markets.

“We are starting to see vendor-led public access small cell R&D turning into concrete operator deployment commitments, said Dimitris Mavrakis, principal analyst at Informa.  “Over the past few months numerous major operators have announced 3G and LTE public access deployment plans – SK Telecom is undoubtedly leading the charge by already rolling out LTE devices.”

At a round table briefing this week, Simon Saunders, president of the Small Cells Forum said, “It’s very difficult to find an operator that doesn’t have small cells in their road map somewhere.” With operators the size of China Mobile and Telefonica on board “the scale and the volume is significant”, he said.

“If you put small cells out there you get a more rapid opportunity to improve traffic and enhance the user experience. If you put ten small cells around the area of a macro cell, three quarters of your data is then running over the small cell”. Saunders said that through the use of small cells the typical speeds, rather than peak, of all users, increased by more than 500 per cent. This enabled he said, “advanced 3G and LTE [to] really deliver the high data rates that the headlines say they should be capable of.”

He also called on carriers not to forget about backhaul issues. “We don’t want to solve a problem in the radio network and then cause a problem with the backhaul.”

Much of the issues around deploying small cells were aesthetic David Swift, senior manager for product marketing small cell solutions at Alcatel-Lucent revealed. He explained that the problem was being dealt with by employing a company that had created a lot of iconic Apple hardware. “We employed a company that you have probably never heard of, called Frog Design, that did a lot of the Apple kit. They have come up with designs that look like lamp fittings. You could walk past these and you wouldn’t even know it was there – it just looks like a street lamp. Some of the ones in European cities hang in the middle of the road and by using our cube type technologies and the radio you can actually beam form down the streets.”

The Small Cells Global Congress is taking place on 30-31 October 2012, in the hotel Palace, Berlin, Germany. Click here to register your interest.

The Broadband World Forum 2012 is taking place on the 16 – 18 October 2012 at the RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Click here now to register your interest.

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