Light Reading
Service providers need the tools to integrate and manage the proliferation of small cells and Wi-Fi

4G World 2012: Getting Small Cells Under Control

Carol Wilson
10/29/2012
50%
50%

CHICAGO -- 4G World -- The explosion of small cells in the wireless network promises the ability to give consumers more capacity, using the existing wireless spectrum. But that explosion won’t help wireless operators compete, if they don’t also get the management tools and integration needed to control how their services are delivered over that last network segment.

That was one conclusion of today’s Small Cell Summit, at which a series of speakers and panelists agreed that all forms of small cells -- including unlicensed Wi-Fi -- have a growing role to play but could be a growing headache to operators pursuing the Holy Grail of “Quality of Experience” for their end users.

Six million small cells have been deployed, almost double the number from a year ago, says Andy Germano, VP Americas for the Small Cell Forum Ltd. , which will be formally announcing the new numbers later this week.

The forum’s new chairman, Gordon Mansfield, executive director of small cell solutions and RAN delivery at AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), adds that the critical thing is that “all of these have to be kept under control of licensed network operators, so we can make sure we control interference” and its impact on QoE. Mansfield sees the integration of different technologies and security as two other potential barriers for small cells at the edge of the network.

The Small Cell Forum, formerly known as the Femtocell Forum, is now working harder to represent the wireless operators’ issues, including putting an operator in its chairman seat and adding carrier execs from Asia and Europe as vice chairmen. But as Mansfield made clear in his presentation and on a later panel -- which he shared with Edgar Figueroa, CEO of the Wi-Fi Alliance -- the Small Cell Forum is also working with standards bodies, including 3GPP and the WiFi Alliance, to develop the standards and APIs required for enabling integration of services over multiple technologies.

In fact, if the event had another theme, it was the need for Wi-Fi and small cells to be integrated into a solution that enables each to serve its purpose without interference, possibly through partnerships with wireline operators or other entities.

While there was general agreement that Wi-Fi is here to stay, there was also concern about the interference resulting from deployment of too many hot spots and the chaos faced by customers left to navigate the Wi-Fi jungle on their own. Multiple speakers advocated using network intelligence to direct devices to the appropriate small cell or Wi-Fi network based on their location, their application and the current level of network congestion or available bandwidth.

Figueroa touted his organization’s Passpoint initiative, which he says will enable “advance capabilities for auto network selection and auto security” and will leverage intelligence to auto-select network services, provision subscription services and enable roaming.

Without management, Wi-Fi is more of a nightmare, says Robert Riordan, executive vice president and director of corporate development at Nsight , which owns Wisconsin-based Cellcom Inc. , a wireless operator that just finished a successful small cell trial.

“We are about two or three years later than we wanted to be, but we rolled out a small cell on CDMA, underneath a macro cell,” Riordan says. “We’re not as excited about Wi-Fi -- there is way too much unmanaged Wi-Fi out there.”

Even Riordan agreed he would be willing to partner with a Wi-Fi provider if it was a managed service. That’s an option many speakers agreed on -- that partnerships with wireline providers such as telcos, cable companies or wholesalers -- would also make sense for wireless operators and potentially get them around the other small cell challenges. Those include having to widely deploy cells that meet local regulations, and get backhaul capacity to each small cell site.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Is your network built on 'The Old IP,' or are you part of 'The New IP' revolution?
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Innovating Access Technology With G.fast

10|1|14   |   3.42   |   (0) comments


Exploring the potential of G.fast technology from the point of view of the Broadband Forum, Huawei – and an end-user.
LRTV Documentaries
A Cultural Shift for an OTT World

9|26|14   |   01:41   |   (3) comments


Telcos need to embrace a new approach to partnerships if they are to generate extra revenues quickly and give customers what they want.
LRTV Documentaries
New Skills Needed as Telecom, IT Collide

9|26|14   |   4:07   |   (1) comment


As telecom and IT collide, new technologies are emerging, new skills are needed and new opportunities for women are arising.
UBB Forum News
Do IP Networks Need An Overhaul?

9|25|14   |   02:01   |   (0) comments


As traffic levels ramp, do IP networks need new technologies and topologies?
LRTV Documentaries
Sprint Wields Its Influence in the Valley

9|25|14   |   3:09   |   (11) comments


Anne-Louise Kardas, Sprint's connection to startups in the Valley, explains how telcos can be innovative and find new opportunities with partners.
LRTV Documentaries
SDN, NFV & The Future of XO's Network

9|25|14   |   3:47   |   (1) comment


XO Communications COO Don MacNeil explains how cloud, SDN and NFV are altering its network requirements as well as changing data centers of the future.
UBB Forum News
The OTT Conundrum

9|24|14   |   01:39   |   (0) comments


What is holding back prosperous partnerships between telcos and the OTT players?
LRTV Documentaries
Putting Broadband to Work

9|24|14   |   01:26   |   (0) comments


High-speed broadband network rollout is key to telco strategies, but it's what happens after the network is built that counts.
Light Reedy
Light Reading's Women in Telecom Recap

9|24|14   |   0:55   |   (4) comments


Our first Women in Telecom breakfast was a huge success, and we hope you'll join us in London for the next event on November 6.
UBB Forum News
Monetizing Ultra-Broadband

9|24|14   |   01:43   |   (2) comments


Ultra-broadband networks need to be built, with fiber-to-the-premises the ultimate goal, but they need to be monetized, too.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sales Director of INIT on Plug & Play Switch Devices

9|19|14   |   3:21   |   (0) comments


INIT Italy uses both the Huawei S5700 and S7700 series switches for the campus LAN environment. Sales Director Andrea Curti says their company chose these Huawei devices over others because of their performance, flexible scalability and plug-and-play features.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Saudi Arabia Upgrades Vocational Training System

9|19|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


The Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) has 100,000 students, 150 government-owned institutions and oversees 1000 private institutes. The CIO of TVTC explains that Huawei devices have allowed them to manage multiple datacenters using just one software program, scientifically tracking the progress of students and teachers, saving them millions.
Upcoming Live Events
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Half of the world's population will be connected to the Internet by 2017, but not just by smartphones and desktops.
Hot Topics
Facebook Pokes Around LTE Direct
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/25/2014
Is Redbox Instant Shutting Down?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 9/30/2014
Sprint Wields Its Influence in the Valley
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/25/2014
US Ignite Cultivates Gigabit Apps
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 9/25/2014
SoftBank Eyes a DreamWorks Buy – Report
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/29/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed