Small cells wireless technology refers to lower powered access nodes that have a far shorter range than the macro-cells used for cell phone networks. Small cells (micro-cells) area lower cost and use less power than typical towers, because they only need a few watts of power. Implementing a small cells wireless network can save money long term because of the flexibility of the network and its low power usage.
Mobile operators and cable companies see small cells wireless technologies as a low cost, high value way to increase user capacity and ARPU without a massive overhaul. Installing more small cell stations throughout an area means that users will have lower latency when trying to access the network, meeting customer expectations of instant access from anywhere.
Small cells wireless technology is being rolled out by major cable operators and for 2014, small cells technology revenue is expected to hit $1.8B. According to Infonetics Research, the small cell market is expected to reach 2.7B units by 2017.
DAS networks built on small cells wireless technologies are more flexible than cell phone towers, have little to no need for zoning permissions, and can be easily installed on the sides of buildings. DAS networks improve capacity because their number can be increased by adding more small cells when necessary. Om the other hand, Wi-Fi networks can extend the existing LTE network allowing for offloading of data via the cloud and reducing the burden on the network.
The literally small size of small cells wireless technology means that they are easier to install at street level, often unobtrusively.
DAS allows cable providers to add Wi-Fi and cell phone coverage to dead zones at a relatively low cost. This makes DAS popular for improving coverage at parks, near highways and between skyscrapers.
Another avenue that cable operators are investing in indoor DAS provides indoor data connections to an entire floor. Small cells can increase indoor coverage without the need for users to wander the halls looking for a good signal.
The limited range of small cells wireless technology is actually a benefit when it lessens interference from nearby electromagnetic interference sources.
Point in fact, an indoor DAS cell connection won’t interfere with the medical equipment in a hospital. Installing iBS in enclosed public areas like rail stations and stadiums improves call reception and customer satisfaction. iBS is also popular with increasingly un-tethered workplaces. Installing iBS permits employees to work on their laptops without using up limited fiber optic cable bandwidth.
iBS, DAS and the Future of Small Cells Wireless Technology
Small cells today are easily interchangeable from 3G to 4G. The upgradability is important, since 4G small cells wirelesss technology is expected to account for half of the market by 2019, according to ABI Research.
And upgradability will keep small cells wireless technology sales strong, since 5G is expected to be released in 2020 in time for the Olympics in Japan. Cable operators are opting for small cell technology in part because they know it will need to be upgraded in a few years.
Small cells wireless networks have the potential to be self-organized, allowing them in the future to correct for network outages caused by a single hardware failure or large scale disaster to keep the lines of communication open.
Will small cells wireless technology be a real competitive gainer for cable operators?
Overwhelmingly, the answer appears to be yes. Cable operators using small cells wireless technology can provide data and content to customers who expect 24×7 anywhere access. Cable operators gain a low cost option for rolling out new networks and an affordable technology base that is easy to upgrade.
Improving communication network capacity and performance at a lower cost keeps subscribers and improves the bottom line of all who use them. That is why it is a real competitive gainer for cable operators to utilize small cells wireless systems.