Everyone agrees that the small cell opportunity in a 5G world is big. However, many questions still remain unanswered.

What are 5G Small Cells and Why the Interest Now?

Over the past decade, Small Cells Wireless Technology has led a nondescript life quietly enhancing mobile phone capacity inside buildings and for outdoor wireless service. They were discreetly tucked away into innocuous locations throughout the city and in underserved areas such as rural communities. They are installed by mobile phone operators to stretch their service coverage and improve network capacity.

One of the most innovative features of the 5G architecture is its dependence on 5G network slicing. Learn how it allows operators to provide special services on our blog post What is Network Slicing?

As time passed, operators began to realize that these Small Cells can also be a great source of information. At their core, the devices are low-powered cellular radio access nodes that operate in both a licensed and unlicensed spectrum. Each small cell has a range of somewhere between 10 meters to a few kilometers. Service providers discovered new revenue opportunities through their location and presence information capabilities. Every time a registered user is detected entering the “Femto Zone,” the device’s reception perimeter. With the user’s permission, the service provider shares this location information to update the user’s social media status or other data floating around in the IoT. These devices interact with the wider mobile ecosystem to create a long-tail effect.

5G Spotlights the Venerable Small Cells

Small cells were brought out from the shadows once again as smartphone communications operators prepared to welcome a disruptive technology called 5G. A scarcity of bandwidth challenged the communications industry. Low-frequency bandwidths were tighter than your brother-in-law’s wallet. More bandwidth had to be acquired. The solution was found in mid-band frequencies that could withstand the 5G onslaught. To compensate for the premium on space, new mid-range frequencies began appearing throughout the globe. These new bands are located in the so-called millimeter-wave, or, mmWave spectrum. The spectrum includes 24 GHz, 28 GHz, and 39 GHz. It’s important to differentiate the small cells from distributed-antenna systems (DAS), which are not low-powered access nodes.  

As demand for mobile phone service skyrocketed, so too did the need for more bandwidth. Coming along to save the day, comes the 5G mmWAVE Small Cell. Soon, the devices began popping up in locals where people congregate, such as an enterprise campus, at special events like the Super Bowl, and shopping malls-even parks. Once relegated to the backwaters of telecommunications, the small cells now proliferate throughout the world. Small Cells are a cost-effective solution for increased capacity and improved performance. It offers more bandwidth while preparing for 5G without investing in costly macro sites. Deloitte published a report that estimates that there are more than 10 million Small Cells deployed throughout the globe. They are installed on streetlights and electric poles, with a ⅓ of them being at indoor locations. CSPs are furthering network fortifications for 5G upgrades. And small cells are set to play a key role in the advent of 5G.

Considering Automating Your Deliverables?

Innovation will continue to drive 5G capabilities well into the decades to come. CSPs will be challenged to provide its customers with world-class service through automation.

Contact us to discuss the provisioning of small cells, access networks, and virtualized functions, orchestrating through various inventories, network systems, and elements involved in the provisioning automation. We will talk about how the automation and standardization of the small cells provisioning ensure the quality (reducing the manual turn-up/activation issues), speed up the deployment (allowing operators to reach 10x increase factor without hiring extra staff), and how the automated provisioning and configuration of the virtualized infrastructure and network elements provide network elasticity, expanded coverage and enhances QoE at an attractive cost.

By reducing the dependency on specialized hardware, operators can also expect to lower Capex and Opex. At the same time, they speed up service delivery, allowing scalability on demand and responding to the network conditions and user needs in real-time, this way opening the way for 5G and dynamic services.

One of the most innovative features of the 5G architecture is its dependence on 5G network slicing. Learn how it allows operators to provide special services on our blog post What is Network Slicing?

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