Data growth to make small cells an indispensable part of LTE rollouts

June 06, 2012 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Mobile networks are exploding with many users streaming video simultaneously, putting a huge strain on 4G/LTE, and small cells will create solutions for vendors in the market, according to the latest report from Heavy Reading 4G/LTE Insider, a paid research service of Heavy Reading.

The report, 'The New 4G/LTE Radio: Small Cells & New Architectures' examines the small cell market, focusing on how small cells and new network architectures will affect 4G/LTE offerings. It analyzes the mobile landscape, explores drivers and threats in the market, and evaluates new solutions available. The report profiles 11 leading vendors in the 4G/LTE small cell market.

"Sooner or later mobile networks are doomed to buckle under the load of billions of mobile broadband users all streaming video at the same time," notes Claus Hetting, research analyst with Heavy Reading 4G/LTE Insider and author of the report. "One solution is for operators to build networks that offer a very high network capacity, exceeding 1 Gbit/s per square kilometer, by increasing 4G/LTE base station density through mass deployment of small cells."

Small cells and new architectures are starting to form an indispensable part of the 4G/LTE solution landscape, says Hetting. "While some constitute the natural small cell extension of carrier-grade radio network equipment, other vendors are approaching the small cell market with enterprise and residential femtocell-type equipment more reminiscent of consumer-class CPE," he continues. "As the 4G/LTE small cells market grows, opportunities abound for smaller vendors with creative solutions to the most pressing technological challenges in 4G/LTE small cells."

Key findings of the report include:

  1. The explosive demand for mobile broadband is forcing the industry toward high-capacity 4G/LTE networks;
  2. Several new technologies, including OBSAI/CPRI, SoC, new forms of backhaul and especially SON, are key solution ingredients;
  3. New architectures abound, including cloud RAN, sub-compact and modular radio units, baseband pooling, and antenna-integrated radios;
  4. Wi-Fi is the biggest threat to the small cell business case; in response, many vendors are integrating Wi-Fi into their solutions.