Skip to main content

Small cell barrier: Nokia brings predictability to site planning

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

This second blog in our mini-series about small cell deployment challenges looks at an innovative service to help choose the best site locations.

No business likes surprises, especially when it comes to cost overruns. Yet the sheer complexity and multitude of factors to take into account when deciding where to put base stations has made it extremely difficult to accurately predict the final costs involved in rolling out a small cell network. Until now that is.


It’s all in the planning

Operator deployment of small cells is being held back by doubts about the true costs and the many unknowns. From dealing with restrictive municipal rules to avoiding the need for costly civil works for backhaul, to uncertainty over whether the selected location will actually achieve the expected capacity boost, operators are rightly wary of encountering runaway costs they can't control.

The solution is to find a new way to plan deployment – one that takes all the many cost and quality variables into account.

The Nokia HetNet Engine Room service does exactly that. It processes all the complexities to deliver what we call a Site Value Index – a single number between 0 and 100 that quantifies a location’s return on investment (ROI) and tells you instantly how good the site really is.

3-D views bring extra clarity

Nokia HetNet Engine Room* uses a database of information about sites, real estate partners and fiber backhaul availability combined with 3-D Geolocation tools and RF design tools to identify valid sites for small cell deployment. 3-D street views provide powerful insight into the suitability of sites based on pole configuration and location, difficulty of any required civil works, and how close they are to anything that could affect deployment such as nearby bridges, tram rails, power cabinets, fiber access points and manhole covers.

This enables a calculation of costs including pole replacement, power connectivity, getting fiber to the site and so on. The service also shows how the proposed sites improve the spectral efficiency and capacity in the area.

All this data is then analyzed to create the Site Value Index that allows the operator to compare sites and prioritize its deployment budget. The service has been shown to cut deployment costs by around 20% and speed up rollout by up to 30%.

Nokia small cell planning services are enhanced by award winning 3-D Geolocation for accurate identification of traffic hotspots and better understanding of the mobile broadband experience for subscribers inside high rise buildings. Planning and optimization no longer has to rely on assumptions, but is based on real data and automatic cross-checks to determine if traffic patterns are consistent over time, if they are being generated by multiple subscribers, and if the corresponding macro cell is heavily loaded.

The bottom line is that operators can more confidently deploy small cells without any unexpected negative financial impact.

Watch for the third blog in our series on October 7, 2015, in which we examine new ways to deploy small cells that blend in with the surrounding environment. Mark your calendar!

For a helicopter view, check out our Nokia Services for HetNets infographic and visit our Nokia Services for HetNets and Nokia HetNet Engine Room webpages.

For a deeper dive, watch our HetNet Engine Room video and read our White Paper "The HetNet Engine Room: Bringing R.O.I. and Scalability to Ultra-Dense Networks."

* The Nokia HetNet Engine Room service is available initially in the US.

Share your thoughts on this topic by replying below – or join the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks using #NetworksPerform #mobilebroadband #Services #3D #HetNets #smallcell.

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

Article tags