Capacity is an issue in this age of increased mobility. Consumers and business professionals want increased availability and accessibility, regardless of location. And, faced with marco cell bandwith scarcity and constraints mobile service providers (MSPs) are seeking out solutions to meet growing demand and increasingly are turning to small cell deployments as an integral part of a holistic approach to finding solutions to their capacity needs.
A recent Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert) article, “Traffic Geo-Location Optimizes Offload Using Small Cells,” highlights this global trend. The company stressed that in order for the small cells technology to work, MSPs must cautiously plan where, when and how they will position the small cells. They must also consider the cost of small cells technology. Reality is a deployment project is fairly inexpensive for small projects, but the larger projects may need to include adding other carriers or going with macro cells to meet their expansion needs.
One approach that involves algorithms developed at Bell Labs, Alcatel-Lucent’s research arm, can offer a data-driven approach for total analysis of a network on the traffic on that network’s IP architecture. By using these algorithms, administrators can determine the best placement of the small cells to best suit the mobile service providers and their IP architecture.
MSPs need to know the offload potential and how to avoid various interferences with the macro cells in the area as well as the small cells already in place. The systematic analysis of the network under the algorithm helps to minimize the interference and incorrect placement of the small cells technology.As the article notes, to address the issue of location MSPs tend to generate maps that show heavy traffic areas, aka”hot spots.”The hot spots are areas that receive a high concentration of traffic from mobile users. It’s in these hot spots that mobile service providers look to offload traffic with small cells technology. Small cells are perfectly suited for these concentrated areas with intense usage since they are high-capacity and are engineered for optimal performance in confined geographic areas. What’s known through successful small cell placement is that the addition of one single cell in a hot spot can produce dramatic results. In fact, the article cites a case that achieved up to a 50-plus percent offload on a macro cell’s network.
But MSPs don’t need to guess where the best placement of the small cells technology is going to work. An offload report generated through Bell Labs’ (News - Alert) process will show exactly how each cell will effectively offload traffic in the various hot spots on the map. The same algorithms work for expansions that can include macro cells as well.
Small cells technology allows mobile service providers to add capacity, but cost is always an issue that has to be considered. Will the added capacity translate into added revenues? In an increasingly commoditized industry, service availability is a critical issue. After all, the best customer service means little if the customer can’t connect.
Again, Bell Labs has developed a tool that helps compare costs. This means all of the costs for proper siting and maintenance of the small cell networks, including taking into the account such things as power availability, backhaul network connectivity alternatives, local regulatory challenges, etc. The process allows the mobile service providers to look at a variety of scenarios and pick which one will best allow them to expand within the confines of a determined budget.
As tablets and smartphones continue to proliferate, look more an more for small cell deployments when you are out an about, particularly in highly congested areas. They are what will enable you connect when, where and how you want with they quality of service you expect/demand.
Edited by Peter Bernstein