The word on the street: small cells for faster time to revenue, lower deployment OPEX

By Dudy Cohen 4 min read

There have been lots of talks about small cell deployments in the past years. These low-powered, wireless radio access nodes have been designed to be installed locally in cities’ dense, high-traffic environment to augment macro cells. They promise greater capacity, better signal quality (think lower to the ground) enhanced quality of experience and less interference, precisely where subscribers access their voice and data.

While small cells do present an interesting proposition, it has left operators with a feeling of “not there yet.” The reason? Implementation. Small cell backhaul architecture differs substantially from the conventional network configuration, requiring integration into an existing environment – especially complicated when considering wireless backhaul. Among the challenges:

Street deployment. In a crowded city location, you need to be in and out of the location quickly. That means simpler installations. You also need to account for obstructions, such as buildings, which limit visibility between near ground-level sites and microcell sites. For this situation, you need to implement non-line-of-sight (NLOS) backhaul capabilities. And finally, you also need to deal with the bureaucratic hassles of time-limited parking permits, as well as other authorizations.

Multiple scenarios. In a dense urban environment, deployments aren’t “one size fits all.” They differ according to needs: Lower-capacity links require point-to-multipoint, street level to rooftop sites. Short-distance links require deploying a chain of street-level sites. Longer links with less capacity suits remote, isolated sites. Other deployments may require high-capacity aggregation links.

No matter which scenario works for you, you still need to consider many variables: e.g., installation location, capacity requirements, links distance, interference levels, and latency.

Large-scale network planning and implementation. These types of environments complicate efforts at effective planning for high-capacity networks and take up a lot of time and money. They also require adopting a different, perhaps less familiar, deployment methodology, switching from link-by-link commissioning to multiple site installations, each requiring backhauling to one central location.

For every challenge, a solution can be found. In this case, a unified small cell backhaul solution simplifies planning and deployment. Faster deployment means faster time to revenue -- by as much as 30%. It’s the solution that can save 35% of deployment OPEX, because of quick, easy installation – within half an hour -- and lower footprint. It lets you be prepared for any small cell scenario:

  • Common, street-level implementations featuring point-to-multipoint and point-to-point capabilities that enable zero-touch provisioning to limit installation time at city locations;
  • Short, very-high-capacity links that can scale to 2.5Gbps
  • License-exempt, short-very-high-capacity links that can scale to 2.5Gbps
  • Longer links for small cell aggregation or remote, small cell backhauling

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