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How to deliver 35% higher Quality of Experience with 50% fewer small cell sites

This blog is by Andy Burrell at Nokia Networks.
Twitter: @AndyBurrell

As the last in our mini-series looking at the challenges of small cell deployment, this blog considers different ways for operators to build their networks in order to deliver top Quality of Experience (QoE) with as few sites as possible.

Thus far in our blog mini-series, we’ve answered questions and offered proven strategies related to the overall challenges of deploying small cells. Now we’re wrapping up with a view to how operators can use a novel deployment business model to deliver higher Quality of Experience (QoE) using significantly fewer sites.

Operators have a wide variety of deployment options to consider including the straightforward ‘deploy and operate our own sites’, to buying in everything with a complete ‘small cells-as-a-service’ model.

Somewhere in between these two extremes is the ‘neutral host model’, in which operators share small cell sites. The model was used recently by some US operators to support a visit by the Pope.

This approach can have major cost advantages compared to each operator going it alone. A study by Nokia investigated how many small cell sites would be needed to deliver the same QoE using the neutral host model compared to each of three operators deploying its own small cell networks. The investigation first examined the level of QoE delivered by the existing macro network to a specified urban area. The results showed that deploying a small cell network provided a substantial boost of up to 35% in the ‘baseline’ QoE measured in terms of the number of subscribers receiving 1.8 Mbps downlink throughput.

The study also found that only 25 shared sites were needed in the neutral host deployment compared to 57 sites required if the operators used the ‘go-it-alone’ method. That represents a 56% saving in the number of sites, leading to a significant reduction in costs.

These savings derive from the neutral host business model itself and are not related to any specific small cells products. However, if operators choose to adopt a neutral host model, the Nokia Flexi Zone solution can bring additional benefits such as compact form factor and speedy installation, making it easier for several operators to share a single site. Flexi Zone's remarkable capacity also makes network sharing possibilities such as MORAN and MOCN* viable for operators.

Of course, the viability of the neutral host model ultimately depends on the local market situation and the individual challenges facing each operator. One size does not fit all which is why a flexible approach in response to operator and market needs is essential. Nokia provides consulting, planning, implementation and optimization services to help make small cell deployment easy and effective.

Your handy guide to small cell deployment

Here is our complete small cell blog mini-series based on typical questions we’ve received. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions and share your comments below.

* For an in-depth discussion about Multi-Operator Radio Access Networks (MORANs), also known as Radio Access Network sharing, and Multi-Operator Core Network (MOCN), please read this excellent article by Analysys Mason.

Please share your thoughts on this topic by replying below – and join the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks using #Nokia #NetworksPerform #mobilebroadband #smallcell #HetNets #Services.

Andrew Burrell

About Andrew Burrell

Andy is responsible for Nokia’s Digital Operations’ marketing.  After more than 25 years in the telecoms industry he remains fascinated by the possibilities of technology, in particular the potential of 5G and Artificial Intelligence to transform networks, operations and business.  He loves to use his various devices to keep up with social media, news, and above all, the football results. Finally realizing that the phone call from Arsenal FC was never going to come, he has given up playing and now prefers to watch his kids chase their own dreams from the side of the pitch.  Tweet me @andyburrell or connect via

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