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Published on July 30, 2014

Rise of the small cells

The wireless world is undergoing a major mutation. Driven by the increasing numbers of connected devices, mobile traffic data is growing exponentially and will reach epic levels within the next five years.

To cope with the soaring mobile data traffic Godzilla, network operators are turning towards small cells, a fairly recent technology that promises to offload traffic from high-density macro networks and provide better coverage to dead zones.

In a nutshell, small cells are low-power wireless access points operating in the licensed and unlicensed spectrum. Small cells typically have a range from 10 meters to several hundred meters and cover 3G and 4G/LTE radio technologies.

The rise of small cells is also spurred by the deployment of LTE networks worldwide. LTE is the preferred radio access technology and there will be increasingly more LTE networks in the future. Since 3G and LTE handsets need to coexist for a while, network operators will be deploying multimode small cells i.e. base stations that pack in 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi.

Small cells technology supplements LTE network deployments by catering to dead zones in metropolitan areas and coverage problems in rural zones. Small cells also help with high-bandwidth consumption at mobile traffic hotspots like offices, universities and malls.

Small cells technology offers a lot of opportunities, but it also comes with its share of challenges for efficient integration into macro networks.

For further reading on the challenges faced when deploying and operating small cells, download our free white paper: Understanding Small Cells— Addressing Unparalleled Network Expansion and Traffic Growth