The case for small cells is not hard to make, nor is the case for Carrier Wi-Fi a hard sell. Put them together, and network operators have an even more compelling solution.
That’s because Carrier Wi-Fi and cellular small cells deliver even greater capacity, efficiency and cost savings when they are deployed together. By deploying carrier Wi-Fi, LTE and 3G together on a given macro site, for instance, mobile network operators can more than triple their capacity per installation. With 6 small cells per site, capacity increases by a factor of 5 or more according to Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert). With 15 small cells per site, capacity grows by a factor of 12 or more.
This is important since mobile data traffic is expected to grow by a factor of 25 between 2011 and 2015, according to Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs research. Deploying all future LTE (News - Alert) Advanced technologies (carrier aggregation, elCIC, MIMO and CoMP) may increase spectral efficiency by a factor of 1.5, noted a recent blog post by Sofia Flores Senior Product Marketing Manager for Small Cells, Alcatel-Lucent, but this is far short of meeting the expected demand in growth.
The cost savings of combining carrier Wi-Fi with LTE and 3G is also compelling.
“Mobile network operators can reduce TCO per bit even further by deploying 3G and LTE metro cells that have integrated carrier Wi-Fi support,” explained Flores.
In other words, with one box that supports cellular and carrier Wi-Fi access.
Carriers that integrate carrier Wi-Fi with a 3G small cell can drop their cost per bit by 75 percent, according to Alcatel-Lucent. This comes at a cost of less than a quarter of what deploying the two technologies separately costs, too.
Integrating carrier Wi-Fi with an LTE small cell, the cost per bit is slightly lower than for a carrier Wi-Fi cell on its own, also noted the blog. The cost per bit of a carrier Wi-Fi integrated LTE small cell is less than a quarter of deploying the technologies separately.
“In short, MNO increase their cost savings with each additional access technology they integrate into a single cell,” noted Flores.
The cost savings come from having the rental costs per bit go down when one site supports multiple access technologies. Operators with extensive carrier Wi-Fi access points can reduce site rental costs per bit by replacing these single technology access points with metro cells that integrate carrier Wi-Fi and cellular access technologies.
Site preparation costs are reduced, too, as there is only one box to install.
All in all, the case for installing carrier Wi-Fi together with 3G or LTE small cells is compelling.
Edited by Peter Bernstein