Development Considerations for Smart Cells
The wireless industry has embraced small cell base stations as a cost-effective way to deploy additional network capacity in saturated locales and increase coverage in other areas. Moving forward, small cells will become more intelligent, making them “smart cells.” Smart cells will help lower operational expenses through advanced services, such as data caching, and through offloading backhaul traffic from the wireless carrier’s access network to a customer premises, broadband connection. Other advanced services like local ad insertion will provide new revenue opportunities as well. For wireless operators, increasing the intelligence in the radio access network (RAN) lays the groundwork for new revenue-generating services and improved network utilization, and hence, greater profitability.
Smart cells have to be a cut above their predecessors; from the perspective of network operators, this means simplifying new service deployment, adapting better to future requirements and defending against evolving security threats. Smart cell developers have to strike the right balance between these requirements and overall product cost, given the cost-sensitive nature of this equipment segment.
Simplifying the Deployment of New Services
A major challenge for wireless operators in providing a uniform, consistent end user experience is the diverse set of locales with varied geographic and network characteristics. For example, network deployments in dispersed rural areas have different requirements than densely populated, urban areas with respect to the number of subscribers, coverage area for a given base station, radio technologies deployed, number of sectors and the like. Moreover, backhaul capabilities range from regions with high bandwidth fiber deployments to those with more traditional circuit switched networks.
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