Mobile communications stands at a crossroads and networks must adapt to a relentless increase in traffic demand while minimizing CAPEX. Mobile networks are increasingly congested and Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) must move to maximize network coverage and capacity. Traditional macrocell networks may not scale effectively to improve coverage and capacity even after common network enhancement techniques such as obtaining more spectrum, sectorization, and advanced antenna techniques are used.
One strategy for tackling this traffic demand is for the MNO to build a cost effective small cell underlay as an integral part of the operator’s network. This network densification technique involves fully integrating the small cell underlay with the macro Radio Access Network (RAN), ensuring adequate backhaul and power are available to each small cell site and that the appropriate permissions and rights of way have been obtained from the site owner or landlord.
In this report we discuss the challenges involved in site acquisition, backhaul, and power provisioning and identify best practices or recommendations for each of these areas.
For site acquisition we discuss regulation, public acceptance, planning and permits, aesthetics, SON, and security. In the backhaul section we discuss both wired and wireless technologies and compare the relative merits of fiber versus microwave, sub 6GHz versus 60GHz, and microwave versus millimeter wave. We also look at the implications of pole sway and tilt on the backhaul link and discuss spectrum licensing. Finally in the area of power provisioning we discuss backup power, Power over Ethernet (PoE), and power provisioning to street furniture
We also provide short profiles of 13 companies heavily involved in small cell rollouts and who are offering professional services to accelerate small cell planning, rollout and operation. These companies range from small cell and backhaul OEMs to infrastructure owners and operators.