Small cells: hurdles and potential

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Towers are not enough
  3. What they are and how they work
  4. Competing and complementary technologies
  5. Potential hurdles
  6. What the future holds
  7. Key takeaways
  8. About Colin Gibbs

1. Summary

As the consumption of mobile data continues to soar, carriers are hard-pressed to serve the needs of end-users via traditional macrocell networks. As an alternative, businesses, municipalities, and other organizations look to small cells to provide voice and data services where legacy towers fail to provide optimal service.

While various flavors of small cells meet a number of increasing needs, growth inhibitors could derail mass adoption if left unaddressed.

Key findings from this report include:

  • Small cells clearly fill a need in mobile telecommunications. Data consumption and user mobility continue to grow, but the traditional model of macrocell-based systems is not a viable solution for delivering data indoors, in high-density areas, and in some rural regions.
  • The term “small cells” refers to a variety of devices and technologies, and enterprises looking to leverage these new technologies must understand its unique problems and needs before considering which devices and technologies are best suited for them.
  • While the market for small cells is enormous, some substantial hurdles — both technological and operational — must be overcome. The market won’t explode overnight, but will grow steadily over the next few years.

Thumbnail image courtesy: flickr user Michael Dorusch

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