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Mobile network connectivity is evolving with increasing smartphone ownership. Moreover, higher data rates and greater mobile usage indoors further attributing to mobile network connectivity. Here come small cells that increase the mobile network capacity and coverage in localized areas. Apart from that small cells also provide -building or outdoor wireless services.
Small Cells Indispensable in Developed Markets
Around 80 % of mobile usage occurs inside buildings in developed markets and is likely to increase in the next few years. As modern buildings are designed to meet stronger efficiency targets. However, significant attenuation occurs to radio signals due to some building materials used for energy efficiency. Hence in-building small cell deployments are carried out along with changing building designs.
Big Changes in Small Cells
Small cell solutions rapidly transitioning into enablers of outdoor network densification. All major communication service providers are focusing on densification plans and many of them already started deploying small cells. The main reason for its deployment is the cost factor. Though small cells are appropriate for places where macro antennas can’t reach but these are offering deployment solutions for the outdoor environment as well. For larger players small cells offering a strategic path to market solidification whereas for smaller players it is offering cost-effective solutions to grow networks.
Challenges in Small Cell Deployment
The factor discouraging deployment of small cells is the operational expenditure. The costs of site acquisition, installation, configuration, backhaul, power, and maintenance are quite high thus alleviating mobile network operators. Cisco outlined two trends to address these small cell challenges. The first is the trend toward simplified and virtualized networks through network function virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN). The second is the network function centralization that decomposition facilitates, moving some functions out of the small cell base station to enable a range of new capabilities in the RAN and allow each operator to more cost-effectively participate in small cell deployments.