Ofcom research states small cells key to successful LTE deployment

The latest research from Ofcom claims that while early 4G mobile networks will be 3.3 times (230 percent) more spectrally efficient than today’s standard 3G networks, this will not be enough to cope with increasing data demands. The UK communications regulator insists that microcellular technologies, including femto and picocells, have a major part to play in ensuring successful network evolution.

John Spindler, VP of product management at TE Connectivity, formerly wireless network specialist ADC, said “We have been arguing the case for microcellular technologies for a long time. The macro tower, or spray-and-pray, approach to delivering signal is responsible for network black spots, poor outdoor/in-building integration and insufficient capacity. Estimates show that using a macro tower approach to LTE deployment would require three – five times as many base stations in order to deliver the capacity users will require. With data traffic expected to grow to 33 times the current level and reach 127 exabytes by 2010 this model is clearly unsustainable.

“While organisations are now coming round to the idea that traditional base stations are no longer effective, and that the deployment of smaller cells is necessary, there is still some debate about the best way to deploy microcellular architecture. Femto and picocells have been talked about for a while now but by themselves they only really work in a limited set of circumstances. However, when used in conjunction with other microcellular technologies such as Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) networks can be optimised to cope with next generation challenges. Whilst femtocells and picocells provide the capacity, DAS is able to ensure there is consistent coverage by distributing these signals via cost-effective remote antennas.”