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Sep 22 2015

For indoor solutions, one size does NOT fit all

This blog is by Stephane Daeuble at Nokia Networks.Twitter: @stephanedaeuble

New White Paper: Four key factors affecting indoor small cells planning

Building a capable indoor network is an increasingly important requirement and differentiator for operators. And it’s not made any easier by the fact that many small cell products available today adopt a ‘one size fits all’ attitude. Based on a multi Radio Access Technology (multi-RAT) small cell approach, they combine several access technologies in a single unit. These almost invariably incorporate a 3G element, flying in the face of evidence that 3G is not always needed in all indoor situations. Even if there is a need for 3G, coverage requirements will differ from the LTE case. So it’s clear that these vendors have not thoroughly analyzed the market demands and what indoor sites actually need.

Indoor coverage_Nokia

In the large majority of existing buildings, 3G small cells are not required because there is outdoor-in coverage from outdoor macro sites or existing DAS systems. And even when you need to deploy 3G, 3G small cells are not needed everywhere in the building since it will already have some level of coverage penetration.

3G also lacks the interference management capabilities of LTE, so using it for all indoor sites or in a particular location may not be the sensible approach in a HetNet environment. To help in this, Nokia Services for HetNets’ unique and award-winning 3G geolocation tool can help pinpoint exactly what is needed where.

VoLTE is also a growing factor that will determine indoor site technology. In the next few years, VoLTE as well as VoWi-Fi will dictate what RAT is required inside buildings and will lead to almost exclusively LTE and Wi-Fi deployments. Once VoLTE becomes commonly used, deploying 3G indoors will not be an automatic first choice.

When it comes to radio propagation principles, both experience and simulations have shown us that the most efficient multi-RAT indoor systems have a mixture of 3G, LTE- and Wi-Fi cells – but not necessarily in the same locations and almost certainly not in the same amount for each RAT.

In contrast to other vendors’ approaches, for locations with more than two to three nodes, the Nokia Flexi Zone indoor Pico Base Station offers versions with 3G/3G+Wi-Fi and LTE/LTE+Wi-Fi, providing the flexibility to build indoor sites that match precisely the needs on the ground. All have macro parity, support RAN sharing, provide a macro scheduler that delivers stunning performance in HetNets, have very high capacity (from four to ten times that of other small cells), are LTE-A capable and provide twice the RF output power of other indoor small cells which helps cut the number deployed per location. Nokia Flexi Zone can also use the same components, whether you need to support small sites or very large buildings.

Throw in our Services for HetNet planning and the 4000+ building deployment expertise of the Nokia in-building solution team and we can provide operators with complete indoor solutions tailored to match the conditions – not a generic product that falls short of the needs of the real world.

To request our new White Paper "Four key factors affecting indoor small cells planning", contact your local Nokia account manager. And please refer to our Small Cells webpage with a Small Cells infographic and Services for HetNets infographic.

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

About Stephane Daeuble

Stephane is responsible for Small Cells and Flexi Zone global product marketing at Nokia. A self professed IT geek and gadget guy, he knows firsthand the value of high speed connectivity that Small Cells provide, and has been an active industry advocate on the role they will play in future HetNets and Ultra-Broadband. Connect with Stephane on LinkedIn