The CCA Voice - Fall/Winter 2015 - (Page 47)

tHeMe: coNNectiNG WitH tHe cUstoMer how Do Small cells Fit into Wireless Networks? By: Greg Weiner, Partner, Vertix Consulting T he wireless industry looks vastly different today than it did just a decade ago, and all indications are that the pace of change isn't abating. It's hard to believe that only eight short years ago smartphones didn't exist, and the concept of music, video, and apps on our phones hadn't even crossed our minds. In only seven years, smartphones have achieved a penetration of greater than 77 percent in the U.S. (Nielsen). Users continue to push wireless networks to their limits as data and video consumption patterns change. Furthermore, the lines between cable companies, content owners, and wireless carriers continue to blur. Consider this: * AT&T is in the process of purchasing DirecTV for $48.5 billion. * Verizon recently announced its intent to buy AOL for its advertising and over-the-top services platform for $4.4 billion. * Streaming video services like Netflix and SlingTV barely existed a few years ago but now have more than 60 million customers watching videos on smartphones, gaming consoles, tablets, and computers - often over wireless networks. Netflix is also the original creator of shows garnering 31 Emmy nominations in 2014. * Rapidly consolidating cable companies have deployed hundreds of thousands of public Wi-Fi access points to augment their service offering footprint. * Google is now offering wireless access service directly to consumers on a multi-network phone (Project Fi) through its MVNO with Sprint and T-Mobile. These dynamics require wireless carriers to reexamine how they deliver coverage and capacity solutions to end users. But therein lies another challenge - the definition of "end users" will change dramatically over the next several years. Already, watches and cars are being connected, along with medical devices, light switches, manufacturing equipment, and just about anything else - the frequently referenced Internet of Things (IoT). How do wireless carriers evolve their networks from supporting voice coverage along highways to highcapacity data coverage everywhere? Increasing the number of macro sites is surely part of the solution. However, this isn't particularly effective at providing high capacity and throughput inside buildings and in highly dense areas. This is where small cells come in. We use the term "small cells" to refer to a broad range of solutions, including distributed antenna systems, remote radios, microcells, and just about anything that isn't a macro site. While the definition is still evolving, conceptually, a small cell is a cell site that is closer to the end users and covers a smaller geographic area than a macro cell. They are lower powered, utilize spectrum more efficiently, and can enhance coverage and capacity at street level. Despite all of the hype, small cells aren't yet the silver bullet that network designers are longing for. While they do offer some distinct advantages over macro sites, they are not without their challenges. Zoning and environmental regulations need to evolve in order to support rapid and cost-effective deployments. Current backhaul options The Deployment vendors, municipalities, and carriers all need to shift their mindset, skillsets, and toolsets to deploying and managing small cells in huge quantities. are cost and location limiting. Alternatives such as non-line-of-sight wireless will need to mature as viable options as the costs associated with fiber are well established. Multi-mode devices supporting legacy 3G and LTE in a single device are still under development. Structures for attachment are highly fragmented across countless third parties, making lease agreements costly and complex to manage. Optimizing small cells within the macro network has proven to be more costly and complex than anticipated. True self-optimizing devices are under development and will help prevent negatively impacting network performance. Deployment vendors, municipalities, and carriers all need to shift their mindset, skillsets, and toolsets to deploying and managing small cells in huge quantities. Thus far, these challenges - along with the overall business case - have prevented large-scale deployments. Analysts have been predicting deployments in the tens and hundreds of thousands for several years now, but these volumes haven't materialized. Once carriers, OEMs, deployment vendors, and others work through these challenges, small cells will be everywhere - in homes, cars, restaurants, stores, and anywhere else with a power outlet. Voice * www.competitivecarriers.org * Fall/Winter 2015 47 http://www.competitivecarriers.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The CCA Voice - Fall/Winter 2015

Board of Directors/Staff
Chairman’s Letter by Jonathan Foxman
A Message from the President & CEO by Steven K. Berry
CCA’s 2015 Excellence in Marketing Award Winners
Number Portability in a Mobile World
Mobile Broadband Brings Life-Changing Health Care Benefits to Consumers
WiFi: Keeping Consumers Connected to the Network, to Each Other, and to Your Brand
Spreading the Reach and Range of LTE
It’s a Mobile Life
Regional Carrier Cellular One Competes with the National Players by Taking a Customer-Centric Approach
5G – The Quest for a Wireless Utopia
Connectivity Leads to Smarter Water Management
Connecting with the Customer through POS/Retail Management Systems
Connecting the Mobile Customer through Innovative Roaming Hub Solutions
Building IoT for the Agile Operator
Wireless Hitting a Home Run at the Ballpark
A New Wave in Wireless: Innovative Strategies to Connect the Last Mile
Using LTE Small Cells to Improve the User Experience
What’s Trending in Customer Communications?
Nurturing Customer Connections in a Mobile World
How Multiple Phone Line Management Services Improve the Customer Experience
How Do Small Cells Fit into Wireless Networks?
Connecting with Customers Outside the Cloud
Whether Mobile or Fixed, Emerging or Established Markets, the Holy Grail of Innovation is Service Personalization
New LTE Service Delivery Approach for Rural Carriers
Index of Advertisers
Congressional Spotlight: Congressman Mike Doyle (D-PA-14)

The CCA Voice - Fall/Winter 2015

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