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
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink: Building the Case for NFV

12|19|14   |   02:14   |   (0) comments


At the 2020 Vision Executive Summit, James Feger, VP, Network Strategy & Development at CenturyLink, talks about how the US operator is approaching virtual network functions from an operational and business case perspective.
LRTV Interviews
Liberty Global Sees Business Goldmine

12|18|14   |     |   (0) comments


Steen Sorensen, VP of business services for Liberty Global, explains where the giant international MSO sees growth potential.
LRTV Documentaries
EE: The Road to 5G

12|16|14   |   16:02   |   (1) comment


Andy Sutton, the principal network architect at UK mobile operator EE, explains how his company is using Wembley stadium as a wireless test bed and how that's helping EE to plan the evolution to 5G.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Highlights of Huawei's NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014

12|16|14   |     |   (0) comments


Huawei hosted its inaugural NFV Open Cloud Forum during the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014 in Düsseldorf, Germany. The Forum brought together technology thought leaders, senior executives and telecom professionals from global carriers, industry associations, as well as other partner companies in the ecosystem, to exchange views on and collectively explore how ...
LRTV Custom TV
Realizing Operators' Digital Vision

12|16|14   |   5:23   |   (0) comments


Leveraging technology is fundamental to digital transformation but understanding customers and serving them really well is at the heart of digital businesses. TM Forum lists the following as the strategic pillars of the digital business: business agility and rapid innovation, operational agility and effectiveness, IT and data centricity, plus customer centricity. ...
LRTV Documentaries
US Cellular Injects Analytics Into LTE

12|16|14   |   2:57   |   (1) comment


US Cellular's Mario Vela explains how the operator uses analytics for network planning and what comes next as the carrier looks to eke more value out of its metrics.
LRTV Interviews
How Cox Biz Plans to Keep Growing

12|15|14   |     |   (2) comments


Steve Rowley, SVP of Cox Business, details how the third-biggest US MSO intends to boost its revenues to $2 billion and beyond over the rest of the decade
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Bill Zhang, Director of SoftCOM Product Management, Huawei

12|15|14   |   2:50   |   (0) comments


Bill Zhang elaborated on Huawei's open philosophy in NFV solution development and network architecture design at the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Event Highlights: Huawei at SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014

12|15|14   |   3:43   |   (0) comments


Huawei joined the 2014 SDN & OpenFlow Congress as one of the key sponsors and contributors. At the event, Huawei reinforced the openness and flexibility of its network infrastructure strategies, and provided updates on its SDN and NVF innovations. Through participations at the exhibitions, forums and speeches, Huawei encouraged the industry to "think bigger and ...
LRTV Interviews
How Cable Biz Services Hit $10B Mark

12|12|14   |     |   (1) comment


Cable operators reached $10 billion in annual business services revenues by delving deeper into their vertical markets and expanding beyond the smallest firms.
LRTV Documentaries
Mediacom Aims to Test Connected Tractors

12|11|14   |   05:07   |   (3) comments


Cable business service provider is taking its services to the 'agribusiness' sector in partnership with farm equipment specialist John Deere and is getting involved in Gigabit Cities developments.
LRTV Interviews
TWC Business Looks Beyond $3B

12|10|14   |     |   (0) comments


TWC Business Services chief Phil Meeks explains how his unit has reached $3 billion in annual revenues and what its plans are for next year.
Upcoming Live Events
February 10, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Hot Topics
T-Mobile, BlackBerry Flirt With Reuniting
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 12/17/2014
1-Gig: Coming to a Small Town Near You
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 12/17/2014
Comcast Launches 4K Streaming Service
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 12/18/2014
US Carriers, You're Going to Cuba!
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 12/18/2014
T-Mobile Lights Up 27 Wideband LTE Cities
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 12/15/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive