Small Cell Solutions
Well aware of the problems associated with the current exponential growth in data traffic, Mobile Network Operators are strategizing on short and long term solutions to relieve the data burden on their networks. MNOs have mostly implemented traditional solutions to date which consists of building out their existing macro cellular network. Unfortunately, they have realized that packing more cells within the same tight area suffers from diminishing returns due to radio interference, and it is difficult and expensive to secure space and build more towers. Further, in high density areas, a macro cellular network does not provide the capacity needed for those high traffic areas.
High traffic areas also require space flexibility for installing more small cells in more locations. There are only limited areas on which to install macro cell towers. The alternative to macro cells for higher capacity gains is to install a small cell LTE underlay network to provide the additional capacity needed at the appropriate location that does not require extensive permitting and expense to purchase and install. Unfortunately LTE small cells have not yet gone mainstream, but fortunately one alternative to offload data traffic in high density areas in a reliable, scalable, inexpensive, and easy to install compact form factor is Wi-Fi.
Installing Wi-Fi in dense environments is the most cost effective short term solution to the MNOs capacity problem. In fact, many Mobile Operators are currently implementing such cost effective solutions with remarkable success. Wi-Fi does not rule out the longer term solution of LTE small cell networks. In fact, small cell LTE and Wi-Fi will eventually complement each other at the same location to solve capacity problems in dense environments in combination with the macro infrastructure.
Installing a Wi-Fi infrastructure is the first step in securing locations so that the MNO can evolve to Wi-Fi and small cell LTE solutions. MNOs who have, or are currently securing the proper locations for Wi-Fi offload are not only solving the short term immediate capacity needs of the network but are also ensuring a much easier transition to small cell LTE and solidifying their longer term strategic needs for the future.