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Small Cells – The Network on the Human Scale
The mobile operators are considering the small cell technology to efficiently manage the Long Term Evolution (LTE) spectrum and offload 3G data. User’s expectations to always stay connected and access applications everywhere, at any time, on their smart phones and other mobile-enabled devices is driving deployment of small cell based network infrastructure. The carriers are focusing on monetization of data traffic and densification of mobile network to deliver enriched user experience and reduce customer churn. With carriers moving to 4G/LTE networks and introducing Heterogeneous Networks (HetNet), the adoption of small cells is expected to proliferate. In-building wireless redefines connectivity to compliment the mobile age. The in-building signal amplification solutions have existed since the 1980s and its adoption is expected to accelerate with the availability of tiny-sized small cells that provide localized, low power, reliable coverage and capacity.
Over the past decade, mobile devices have become the preferred means of communication. Dialling a person rather than a location has become the prime way for establishing communication. The desire to stay connected to the internet and collaborate on social platforms is driving the adoption of smart phones across the globe. The carriers are deploying in-building wireless solutions powered by Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) and small cells to address this demand for pervasive coverage and increased capacity. In-building wireless solutions do not focus only on individual’s connectivity and mobility, but also extend support for holistic approach towards Radio Frequency (RF) planning for surveillance, thereby providing safety to the building occupants.
Smaller cells are used to achieve higher capacity, deeper coverage, and improved user experience objectives in buildings. Decreasing the size of the cells facilitates maximization of indoor cell count thus, dividing the coverage area into larger number of cells to increase the capacity of the network and available data rate. The small cells are gaining market traction as the adoption of in-building wireless solutions in small-sized buildings increases. The uptake of small cells is expected to compliment the deployment of DAS, as medium and large-sized buildings would prefer DAS fed by small cells as they are easy to install, cheaper, smaller in size, and address the capacity requirements effectively.
With the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiatives in place, organizations are deploying the in-building wireless solutions to support the huge pool of mobile workforce and allow information communication that considerably boosts individual productivity. These solutions are responsive and scalable to suit the organization’s requirements. Overall, it supports organizations to deal with multiple factors such as, coverage, capacity, scalability, security, and quality of service.
Network operators are designing the in-building wireless solutions by leveraging the small cell technology to support the increasing volume of wireless data traffic thus, providing a dedicated user network. The small cells technology delivers deployment flexibility, network scalability and resiliency to enhance the service quality. Though the technical limitations and high deployment cost inhibit the uptake of small cells, the small cells deployment for creating dense networks is expected to grow.
Carriers are leveraging the technological advances to build cost-efficient and flexible communication networks by employing small cells to deliver continuous coverage and capacity. MarketsandMarkets forecasts the in-building wireless market to grow from $4.05 billion in 2014 to $10.65 billion in 2019 at a CAGR of 21.3% during forecast period.
In-Building Wireless Market [by System Components (Antennas, Cabling, DAS, Repeaters, Small Cells), by Business Models (Carrier, Enterprise, Host), by Building Size (Large & Medium, Small)] - Worldwide Market Forecasts and Analysis (2014 - 2019)
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