So far, 2013 is a lot like 2012 when it comes to user expectations for their smartphones and tablets: more and more bandwidth to support their data demands along with uninterrupted coverage while on the go. Mobile operators are turning to small cells to help meet these demands, and we see some clear trends emerging in this arena.
First of all TDD is picking up some serious momentum. Time Division Duplex (TDD) TDD has the potential to be positioned as a complementary solution to Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) networks, bringing additional capacity to congested areas, opening up a new way of data offload and backhaul for small cell deployments. My article on The Evolution of LTE TDD highlights how TDD in the form of LTE shines through for operators when they think they’ve reached a point where they’ve exhausted all of the possible data offload approaches.
Next in line is the emergence of Wi-Fi technology in the cellular network. Wi-Fi and small cells go hand in hand as they both play a significant role as an offload mechanism for the network. Small cells not only provide coverage, but they actually improve the capacity of the network. The existing Wi-Fi networks offer operators a low-cost offload alternative for the residential and enterprise domain. Working in concert, this heterogeneous network, or HetNet has been a tremendous boon to the operator. The EDN Roundtable: Mobile Offload covers these options in detail.
Finally- multi-mode devices! As the mobile industry transition from legacy 2G/3G architecture to LTE, there is an immediate need for dual-mode or multi-mode small cell devices that enable operators to deliver the best user experience as they support their existing 3G users while rolling out their LTE networks. My article, Next Stop: Multi-mode Devices, will give you a better understanding of what’s at stake and how multi-mode devices truly are the next step for small cells.
Tying all these small cell trends together is the Self-Organizing Network or SON. SON offers operators a better way to manage their HetNet and multi-mode devices, providing effective coordination of RF resources suitable for multi-radio, multi-standard small cell network with automated steps for self-configuration, self-optimization, self-healing and enhanced O&M. By automating these steps, mobile operators can lower deployment and operation costs, mitigate interference and optimize their networks to boost capacity and throughput. You can check out our small cells page for more details.
What are other trends you are seeing in the mobile industry to keep up with capacity? Do you think TDD and multi-mode devices are gaining popularity? Leave us a comment with your thoughts; I’d love to hear from you.