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Small cells vital to the future of networks say mobile operators

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Category: Business models, Small cells




Research released this week by analyst house Informa has backed up the general pervading industry feeling which has grown over the past 18 months or so.

The Informa Telecoms & Media quarterly small cell market status report polls industry representatives from around the world, and found that a massive 98 percent of mobile network operator (MNO) respondents consider small cells to be vital to their future.

As demand for capacity and coverage go on growing, it seems that MNO have accepted that they have a powerful ally in small cells and metro cells. Informa’s survey polled respondents throughout Europe, Asia and North America, where demand for data is growing at enormous levels. In India alone a recent report revealed that data traffic over mobile networks had increased by 54 percent during the first half of 2012.

Informa’s report also shone a light on small cell deployment by MNO around the world, with 46 small cell roll outs in place. This amount includes deployments by 9 of the world’s top 10 operators.

As operators look to find ways to increase capacity and coverage on a convenient and cost-effective basis, small cell and metro cell deployments are only going to increase in number. Informa’s report also investigated the level of Wi-Fi hotspots which are now integrating small cells and metro cells to provide additional capacity and improved Quality of Experience (QoE) for users. With 70% of data demand now accounted for in indoor environments, and both the Wireless Broadband Alliance and Small Cell Forum backing the move, delivering higher quality hotspots looks like a smart move by operators.

Other results revealed by the Informa report included 55 percent of mobile operators prioritizing public access deployments in the coming year, ahead of enterprise deployments on 35 percent. How and where to site a metro cell is also considered a challenge, with 49 percent of respondents citing planning and power issues as factors.

35 percent of operators consider backhaul to be their chief concern when rolling out metro cells to support mobile networks. Perhaps unsurprisingly LTE is considered the biggest technology driver for small and metro cell deployment across the coming five years.

The benefits of small cells and metro cells to mobile operators are clear – the technology simply helps them to deliver higher quality service to subscribers. The challenges to deployment such as how and where to site a metro cell in an urban environment can be overcome quickly and easily enough – giving that operator an immediate competitive advantage in the marketplace.

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