Our Mobile RAN and Small Cell analyst, Stefan Pongratz, recently participated in an exclusive webinar, Small Cells – Is 2014 the Breakthrough Year?, run in partnership with Avren Events, organizers of the Small Cells World Summit 2014 taking place next month.
Stefan’s impressive fellow panelists included:
- Jim Parker, Senior Manager of the Antenna Solutions Group at AT&T and
- Tony Conlan, Radio Access Networks Vendor Manager at Telefónica.
The webinar focused on the importance of improving spatial efficiency when managing high traffic areas, which is where small cells come into play.
The key takeaway from Stefan’s presentation concerned the transformation of mobile broadband coverage. Currently, more than half of the worldwide population has access to some form of mobile broadband. Yet, according to Ericsson’s mobility report, half of these users experience some kind of problems on a weekly basis.
So, while we are pretty far along the adoption curve when it comes to mobile broadband, we have barely gotten a start on this mobile broadband transformation which small cells will play a significant roll in.
Jim Parker focused on the actions that AT&T’s Antenna Solutions Group is taking to extend the capabilities of macro networks in large venues – namely, employing various distributed antenna systems (DAS). Small cells are more cost effective than other solutions for improving reliability and enhancing network capacity in heavily trafficked areas.
AT&T’s first small cell deployment occurred in the first quarter of 2013. Since then, small cells have continued to become increasingly more advanced and are expected to become AT&T’s dominant technology of choice in their densification program by 2015.
Small cells are compact and unobtrusive, and each small cell can support 16 or 32 active devices with simultaneous voice and high speed data coverage. Each small cell covers 7,000 to 10,000 square feet depending on the building’s construction.
Tony Conlan of Telefónica, spoke to how small cells are being used to improve coverage in densely populated areas. In these dense areas, such as London, all of the possibilities for macro sites have been used up and there is a need for an alternative.
This has created a need to employ small cells to get the required capacity and coverage for these areas.
The most effective way in which to deploy these necessary small cells is to speak to key stakeholders in the densely populated area such as municipal authorities and infrastructure providers, so that these small cells can be deployed on a large scale rather than spending the time and resources required to go through individual landholders.
So, is 2014 the breakthrough year for small cells? It depends on how you define breakthrough, but 2013 was the first year small cells began generating revenue and we expect that we will start to see significant small cell revenue in 2014. Based on the number of commitments, level of trials, and the progress being made, we expect this growth to expand and continue over the next few years.