If the growing number of small cell specialists is hoping to break out big in the United States, they should probably look at other carriers than Sprint. The country’s third-largest mobile operator revealed two vendors for its small cell rollout, and they happen to be the same companies that are building its primary umbrella network.
Sprint will be one of the first carriers to use Alcatel-Lucent lightRadio Cube metrocell architecture, and it will deploy Samsung’s own miniature base stations throughout its footprint. These pint-sized cells pack a lot of capacity into a tiny area compared with macrocells, which spread their bandwidth over a much larger space.
Sprint will initially focus its small cell rollout on high-traffic indoor venues, such as stadiums, transportation hubs, conference centers, hotels and airports. But eventually those small cells will begin to eke outside, supplying a dense layer of capacity in urban environments under the macro umbrella.
Sprint will almost certainly assign Samsung and Alcatel-Lucent venues in the same markets they’re building Sprint’s new CDMA and LTE networks. Sprint has a third infrastructure vendor as well, Ericsson, so don’t be surprised if we see another small cell announcement come out in the next few weeks.