City streets bustle with activity because of business. Urban areas are packed with commercial operations. From tiny street cafes to large shopping centers and from small shops to high-rise offices. People spend a lot of time in cities, even if they don’t live there. Not only do they want to stay constantly connected, but the success of the companies they work for is often tied to their use of online services.
As many segment managers working for communications service providers (CSPs) will tell you, their future success depends on finding new ways to generate revenue from these dense urban areas. Yet, new data services will not deliver the expected revenue unless your target businesses have fast, reliable connectivity.
The demand is there, and rising, but fulfilling it is harder to do.
What’s the problem?
In short, it’s becoming near impossible to provide the required capabilities from conventional macrocellular networks. In heavy urban areas, upgrading macro-based coverage and capacity is extremely challenging. Locations for new base station sites are difficult to find and prohibitively costly to acquire in packed mega-cities.
Furthermore, with most mobile voice and data services being used indoors, getting a good signal deep inside a building is becoming harder. That’s because modern energy efficient walls and materials can significantly attenuate radio signals from outdoor base stations.
What’s the answer?
Small cells can help CSPs deepen their urban coverage, while maximizing capacity exactly where it’s needed.
Small cells come in different varieties for diverse purposes. Femtocells provide very local indoor coverage in small buildings and serve just a few users. Despite Wi-Fi being widely deployed, adding complementary small cells makes the experience of indoor access much better. Customers no longer need to manually change connection type, or ask for a password from a venue owner to access their email. They just use their mobile as normal.
Moving up the scale is the picocell. Picocells can support up to 100 users at a time in an area less than 250 m across. Often used in indoor applications, picocells are great for improving coverage in an office building. Microcells cover areas less than about a kilometer in diameter and can often be seen mounted on signs or traffic lights, densifying the outdoor network to deliver higher capacity.
Small cells are quick to install and lower cost to run than macro cells, taking advantage of potential sites that could not be considered for macro base stations.
In the short term, small cells reduce the overall cost of serving dense metropolitan areas and provide a means to support new services that can increase revenues from business users. In the longer term, CSPs can use small cell networks to enhance network quality for the business market and create more loyal customers. Differentiating their service by providing a totally reliable and always accessible high speed, high throughput network will help CSPs to meet the needs of demanding subscribers and prevent them churning to a rival provider.
Take a deeper dive into the world of small cells .
Share your thoughts on this topic by replying below – or join the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks using #smallcells