Huawei released its small cell white paper titled “Five Trends to Small Cell 2020”, setting out its stance on the development of the small cell industry, at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.
The number of global mobile broadband (MBB) users is expected to reach 6.7 billion by 2020. The cellular Internet of Things is predicted to register 1 billion connections worldwide.
With the growing popularity of VoLTE, 4K video, virtual reality, and smart wearable and implantable devices, daily single-user mobile traffic is likely to exceed 5 GB. This level of traffic will cause the network to fall short of the increasing expectations of service experience.
At the same time, Huawei argues that accelerating urbanisation will surely create even more hotspots in urban areas, making data traffic more unevenly distributed. Ryan Ding, executive director of Huawei and president of Products & Solutions, pointed out: ‘Gbps’ provides users with instantaneously delivered services; ‘Experience 4.0’ makes HD audios and videos accessible from anywhere; and ‘Connection+’ will open up a new world of ubiquitous connectivity.
Peter Zhou, president of Huawei's Small Cell Product Line, pointed out at MWC2016: ‘Small cells play an increasingly important role in mobile broadband networks. This technology can build digital highways in hotspot areas to eliminate coverage holes and improve user experience, which is key to realizing people-to-people, people-to-thing, and thing-to-thing connections.’
To meet the needs of mobile broadband development, small cells will facilitate the following five trends:
1.Small cells to build new business models and industrial ecosystems
Small cells will be deployed closer to end users, which allows for increased value-added services, while creating new business models and contributing to the construction of a new industry ecosystem.
2.Indoor digitalisation to drive MBB upgrade
A shift toward digital solutions will facilitate the transformation of indoor coverage systems to accommodate high definition voice and video services to sustain and further improve upon MBB industry growth.
3.Multimode, multiband, backhaul integrated outdoor small cells to match diverse site resources
Small cells will achieve higher integration, allowing for multimode, multiband deployment to leverage site resources. Small cells are able to provide wireless backhaul, which allows for better blending into surroundings while facilitating site deployment.
4.Convergence of licensed and unlicensed spectrum to improve spectral efficiency
Support for licensed-assisted access (LAA) and LTE +Wi-Fi link aggregation (LWA) allows for combined deployment of licensed and unlicensed spectra to maximise spectral efficiency and rapidly improve user experience.
5.Ubiquitous small cells to drive the evolution of network architecture
Small cell network controllers will be constructed on new architecture and allow a large number of small cells to be supplemented on existing networks at reduced TCOs to provide added "pipe" services.
Huawei noted that 80% of mobile traffic is generated indoors, especially in public locations. The tidal effect is becoming more prominent than ever. Distributed antenna systems (DAS) are unable to provide sufficient network capacity and meet MBB development demands.
Zhou remarked that transforming indoor networks through indoor digitalisation into indoor MBB networks that allows for ultra large capacity, software-defined solutions, and long-term evolution is inevitable for MBB development. Indoor digital networks, like running water and electricity, will be regarded as an indispensable prerequisite during the planning and selection of buildings.
Outdoor hotspots, particularly those in downtown areas, are experiencing difficulty in acquiring macro sites. It is widely accepted that outdoor small cells will play a more important role in addressing this issue.
In the future, outdoor small cells must blend into its surroundings nicely and support easy deployment, multimode multiband applications on single devices, and wireless backhaul while providing huge bandwidth.
Peter Zhou also pointed out that support for easy deployment and coordination with macro networks is essential to supplementing the coverage and capacity of macro networks and improving spectral efficiency and user experience.
Unlicensed spectrum solutions improve user experience at the cost of extensive use of large bandwidth, which hinders long-term MBB development. Combining licensed and unlicensed spectrum using technology like licensed-assisted access (LAA) to maximise spectral efficiency is inevitable, Huawei believes.
This spectral combination can also help realize co-existence with existing Wi-Fi networks to improve user experience. Due to the power constraints of unlicensed spectrum, the combination of licensed and unlicensed spectrum is mainly applied to indoor small cells.
Huawei's one-box solution allows a single device to simultaneously use unlicensed and licensed spectrum and supports SDR-based network evolution to reduce the TCO of cellular networks.
Massive small cell deployment requires brand-new network architecture. Zhou emphasised that the new architecture must allow small cell networks to realize network convergence, coordinated management, and streamlined O&M.
At the same time, such architecture must help ease small cell deployment with reduced costs, facilitate fast and scaled deployments, and improve the performance of heterogeneous networks.
Service Anchor small cell capability platform
This requires the deployment of devices such as the Service Anchor to enable the massive deployment easy and efficient convergence with macro networks to reduce the number of network nodes.
Small cell networks are usually deployed in public urban buildings, making it more important for small cells to blend into their surroundings. Site acquisitions for small cells are therefore more involved with the building proprietors.
Allowing proprietors to benefit more from small cell deployment is essential to creating new business models, encouraging their help to improve network quality, and reducing the network deployment TCO for operators.
Huawei's Service Anchor is a small cell capability openness platform that bridges small cell networks and value-added services to end subscribers. This platform allows operators, proprietors, and service developers and integrators to mutually benefit and help build a favorable ecosystem for small cell development.
Click Five Trends to Small Cell 2020 to download the small cell white paper.
Huawei Smart Pole combines cellular and WiFi technology for Omantel 4G network deployment
Omantel has joined forces with Huawei to deploy its Smart Pole solution in Muscat’s city centre in Oman. Oman’s mobile penetration rate has exceeded 150% and MBB development is booming. 4G Network deployment increases base station density in densely populated urban areas. Base stations are not only deployed in towers and building roofs but also on walls and 10-15-meter tall poles with coverage of 200-300 meters
Omantel and Huawei have jointly deployed Smart Pole in the Omani capital. Smart Pole contains Small Cell and Wi-Fi technologies to improve network performance and spectrum efficiency. This new solution has a compact, efficient design that fully utilizes site resources while dramatically improving network coverage and user experience.