Nokia Networks has announced a major expansion of its small cell portfolio, spearheaded by new innovations. New products include a double-capacity small cell base station, the Flexi Zone G2 Pico (pictured above), and an indoor planning service enhanced by 3-D geolocation.
The launches enable operators to cost-effectively build even higher performance HetNets in dense urban areas, sustaining high quality mobile broadband for more subscribers and higher data traffic, according to Nokia.
The company believes that by 2020, almost 78% of mobile traffic will be handled by small cells. Nokia Networks has therefore expanded its Flexi Zone solution to help operators grow the capacity of their HetNets to support more users per cell and higher performance.
Flexi Zone G2 Pico base station
The first Flexi Zone G2 Pico base station to be available will be a 3.5GHz TD-LTE Advanced carrier aggregation pico with 4x4 MIMO for advanced LTE markets. This all-in-one small cell also integrates Wi-Fi 802.11ac for additional capacity in a compact 8 litre, 8kg unit for easy siting and installation.
The new Pico solution will be based on the Nokia Flexi Zone G2 Micro/Pico base station platform that features a 4-pipe radio and twice the processing capability of the Flexi Zone Micro/Pico base station. This provides scope for other future variants in support of very high performance HetNets.
“Experience shows consumers enthusiastically embrace mobile broadband when operators deliver excellent LTE network performance – success that can threaten operator brand reputation if capacity fails to keep up,” said Ken Rehbehn, principal analyst, 451 Research Mobility Team.
“High performance small cell systems give operators a critical tool to absorb growing capacity demands without compromising customer experience. Nokia's continued investment in its small cell portfolio smartly expands the range of capabilities and form factors available to operators responding to the challenge of success.”
Similar to other Flexi Zone base stations, Flexi Zone G2 Pico BTS offers full software and feature parity of Nokia Networks macro base stations and packs the same Smart Scheduler and HetNet interference management features for best-in-class performance.
For example, DL Interference Shaping, introduced earlier this year, is also available on all the Flexi Zone base stations, and boosts HetNet capacity by increasing cell edge performance by up to 30%.
Likewise, Flexi Zone G2 Pico BTS can also be used as a stand alone unit or paired with Nokia’s Flexi Zone Controller to create large small cell clusters that act as one eNodeB. This unique architecture allows operators to scale up to ultra-dense networks for even higher capacity and reduced total cost of ownership.
With the continuous growth in data usage, many operators are choosing this innovative high capacity small cell solution to boost performance in hot spots and hot zones. Zain KSA, a technology leader in the Saudi market, awarded Nokia a contract to deploy its Flexi Zone 4G small cells solution to boost performance in strategic locations.
Vodafone Group has also selected Nokia Networks as a global supplier of its LTE and Wi-Fi outdoor small cells products, to provide additional capacity where it is needed most.
3-D geolocation-based HetNet planning
More effective network planning and optimization is enabled by a further portfolio innovation: 3-D geolocation-based HetNet planning for in-building solutions. Nokia Networks is applying newly acquired 3-D geolocation technology to pinpoint precise locations in high-rise buildings that have high demand or are suffering poor service, such as dropped calls or slow connectivity.
Extending the Nokia Services for HetNets portfolio, the service overcomes the limitations of conventional two-dimensional planning that cannot distinguish between the different floors of buildings with different needs, such as a corporate offices and residential spaces. This will help operators deliver the best mobile broadband experience indoors.
“Nokia Networks has demonstrated its commitment to small cell development by being the first supplier with macro parity small cells, and we’re now the first to introduce small cells with LTE-Advanced Carrier Aggregation capabilties,” said Randy Cox, head of Small Cell Product Management at Nokia Networks.
“Operators have an ever-increasing need to provide users with the best mobile broadband experience in key indoor locations. The addition of unique 3-D geolocation technology ensures the best planning and optimization techniques for outstanding performance throughout these buildings - from the top floor boardroom to the ground floor cafeteria.”
Additional features for small cells
Nokia Networks also is enhancing its small cells portfolio with the following new features, making it the industry’s most complete solution and helping operators improve their HetNet performance:
• 1.9 GHz/PCS frequency support for Nokia Flexi Lite base station.
• New frequency variants for Flexi Zone base stations, including 1.9GHz/PCS for Flexi Zone outdoor micro/pico base stations; 1.9GHz/PCS, AWS and TD-LTE 2.3 GHz for Flexi Zone indoor pico base stations; and 1.8GHz for Flexi Zone Pico-enhanced base station with integral Wi-Fi.
• Non Line of Sight (NLoS) microwave backhaul for Flexi Lite and Flexi Zone base stations based on Dragonwave Harmony Radio Lite enabling a fast small cell roll-out in the sub-6GHz band.
• A new delivery model, part of Nokia Services for HetNets, that deploys multiple small cells using a clustered approach and standardized site work processes to reduce deployment from days to hours.