20 Sep 2012
Maravedis-Rethink: small cells to unlock value of underused spectrum
Two thirds of small cell base stations will be deployed in bands above 2.2GHz by 2016, compared to fewer than 40% in 2013, reports Maravedis-Rethink.
According to UK-based wireless technology analyst business, the use of small cells in public 3G and 4G networks will increase the usage, and the value, of spectrum of 2.3GHz and above.
A key motivation for carriers to invest in this technology will be the ability to free up the vast capacity in high bands for mobile services.
"Higher bands have often been uneconomical for cellular networks because of their short range, but the economics will be transformed by small cells, which only need to cover small populations," says Caroline Gabriel, research director of Maravedis-Rethink. "This could free up huge data capacity - many carriers are looking for a five-fold increase by deploying underused bands."
The report forecasts that deployment of public access small cells, for 3G and 4G, will rise from under 30,000 in 2011 to 11.3m in 2016, amounting to a capex spend of almost $4bn, up tenfold in a five-year period.
This leap in mobile capacity will enable new revenue streams, and will be partly driven by the availability of more spectrum, including a potential 100MHz in the 3.5GHz band.
"These roll-outs will only deliver business benefits and new services if they are planned effectively to unleash the maximum amount of capacity and spectral efficiency," Gabriel added.
Small cell networks could unleash large amounts of underused spectrum capacity, much of it available at low cost today. This can change the economics of 4G spectrum and data services.
But obstacles remain, reports the analyst. According to theie survey, backhauling millions of small cells, securing locations, and managing them effectively are the chief concerns.
OTHER KEY FINDINGS:
Despite the availability of automated techniques like SON (self-organizing networks), over 40% of carriers will invest in new planning and management tools optimized for small cells
Finding and acquiring the right locations for small cell deployment is regarded as the number one obstacle to achieving optimal benefits from a small cell network
Two thirds of operators expect the number of base stations they run to have grown by 10 times or more by 2016.
Most popular news in Cellular telecomsNokia Siemens Networks boosts Wi-Fi traffic steering capabilities for residential connectivity
Nokia Siemens Networks and Intel to drive base station applications forward
Nokia Siemens Networks: 3G data triples in India
GS1 and Open Mobile Alliance to bring intelligent bar code scanning to mobile devices
GCF and CCF to harmonise mobile certification