Small Cells – Big in 5G
While Small Cells solutions have been around for more than a decade, they’re very much a hot-topic. Originally developed to overcome the challenges of delivering in-building mobile broadband coverage from outdoor macro base-stations, Small Cells are now widely deployed both indoors and outdoors to address hot-spot areas where capacity uplift is needed.
So, given that Small Cells are nothing new, you might wonder ‘why the interest?’ Well, it’s to do with the increasing pace of 5G network roll-outs and the broader role of Small Cells in 5G, compared to existing mobile networks. In summary, there’s a broader set of 5G deployment requirements, fueling the need for 5G Small Cells.
5G is about delivering both enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) and ultra reliable low latency communications (URLLC) to address a wealth of new use-cases in areas such as industrial automation. These use-cases demand high-capacity and highly reliable 5G service, wherever it's required, outdoors and indoors.
The lower frequencies used by existing mobile networks are already crowded and don’t have the ready bandwidth to support 5G. To counter this, new frequency bands are becoming available in many countries around the world. In addition to ‘mid-band’ frequencies, new bands in the so-called millimetre-wave (mmWave) spectrum, namely the 24 GHz, 28 GHz and 39 GHz bands are being allocated; with more likely to follow.
By nature, these higher-frequency radio-waves do not provide the same coverage as their lower frequency counterparts, but they do have the advantage of much higher bandwidth being available and so support the delivery of increased capacity. Consequently, 5G mmWave Small Cells deployments are not just complementary, they’re a necessity.
Over time, mobile networks have densified considerably to meet growing mobile broadband demands. Delivering eMBB isn’t just for the indoors, 5G networks must support users and services wherever needed, be that at an event or around an enterprise campus. 5G requires that in addition to being deployed at indoor locations, such as travel hubs, shopping malls and other meeting places; mmWave radios must also be deployed outdoors in busy streets, shopping areas and campuses, which is where Nokia’s new AirScale 5G mmWave radio Small Cell solutions come in. In addition to offering much more capacity, Nokia’s AirScale 5G Small Cells use of higher frequencies mean the new Small Cells are physically small, unobtrusive and easier to deploy on street-furniture or in bus shelters etc., where they are close to nearby users.
Of course, in addition to 5G mmWave Small Cells, whether deployed indoors or outdoors, you’ll also need macro base-stations, such as Nokia’s high-performing* AirScale BTS, to provide the wide-area coverage and high-capacity transport capabilities to connect everything together. It's clear that a complete 5G deployment requires indoor and outdoor small cells for operators to deliver big on 5G and with Nokia you’ll be covered everywhere; unlike some other vendors’ approaches.
Nokia has a rich heritage and the widest portfolio of small cells solutions, from multi-band to ultra-deployable mmWave and more, something that Ericsson cannot compete with.
*As noted by RootMetrics in their latest RootScore Report for the US.
Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks or @nokia using #5G and #smallcells.