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Oct 18 2016

Small cells share the spotlight at global culture festival - see video!

Twitter: @stephanedaeuble 

With acts like Massive Attack, Iggy Pop, Sia and New Order on the program, the recent Flow Festival in Helsinki had some big hitters. These acts have established themselves over a number of years but there was also plenty of future new talent and 75,000 music fans were there to experience it.

A big part of that future was also at the festival, although much less visible, in the form of small cells, helping festival goers communicate seamlessly during the three-day event. Mobile devices are used heavily during mass events like the Flow Festival to share pictures and videos via social networks and particularly to communicate with and find each other onsite. The festival event had its own app, which alerted festival goers when their favorite artist was appearing, helped them browse restaurant menus, find venues from a map and gain other important event information.

This obviously placed a heavy load on the network, and this festival takes place in a derelict industrial part of Helsinki with limited need for capacity during the rest of the year. In previous years, Sonera, division of the leading Nordic operator Telia Company, had added a macro-based cell on wheels to complement the local macro network, but even this often delivered insufficient capacity during the festival.

In 2016, Sonera and Nokia solved the network capacity challenge by trialing a new small cell solution connected to the Sonera network serving the festival venue. The first time that small cells technology has been trialed at a mass event in Finland, the solution used a mix of LTE Flexi Zone Micros and indoor Picos (3G and 4G) to bring massive capacity and coverage to the outdoor and indoor locations.

Seeing is believing:

Network deployed in 1 day!

The entire planning, implementation, optimization and performance monitoring during the event was performed by Nokia as a turnkey service in close cooperation with Sonera. Remarkably, because of the tight fiber delivery schedule, Nokia managed to configure, test and optimize the network in just a single day, demonstrating the extreme speed with which small cells can be deployed.

The solution offered significantly higher capacity, with an average downlink throughput per user of 30 Mbps despite up to 567 active users on the most loaded small cells during the busiest time (25,000 people). Total event traffic was 1.4 Terabytes, with maximum daily traffic of 450 Gigabytes, 75% of it carried by small cells.

The solution’s high performance is also demonstrated by a significant KPI that reveals Radio Resource Control (RRC) accessibility of more than 98.5%for the combined macro and small cells network. Clearly, the Flexi Zone network brought a massive improvement in the user experience at this year’s event.

“With their rapid installation, low CAPEX, great customer experience and possible temporary deployment, Nokia Flexi Zone small cells are a highly effective way to deploy massive capacity at busy public events. This year, we were able to give visitors the top quality mobile experience that the high profile Flow Festival deserves,” said Sami Siiki, Head of Networks, Sonera.

As well as the stars on stage, the media also gave extensive coverage to the small cell deployment, highlighting it as a taste of forthcoming 5G networks, where capacity challenges will be solved by wireless connectivity that is closer to the end user with ultra-dense networks (<10-15m inter site distance) made of small cells. Flow Festival was certainly the perfect venue for small cells to make their mark.

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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