& cplSiteName &

Ericsson's Small-Cell Crystal Ball

Michelle Donegan
LR Mobile News Analysis
Michelle Donegan
11/21/2012
50%
50%

As Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) unveiled its expectations for global mobile traffic growth on Wednesday, the Swedish vendor also outlined the small-cell base station deployment strategies it expects to see as carriers figure out how to deal with the forthcoming data deluge.

In its latest Mobility Report, the vendor notes that mobile data traffic volumes have doubled during the past year (comparing the third quarter of 2012 with a year earlier) and were up 16 percent compared to the second quarter of 2012, driven by the rapid uptake of smartphones and LTE subscriptions.

It also expects data traffic volumes to grow at an average annual rate of 50 percent between 2012 and 2018, with video streams driving that growth.

(The traffic statistics, collected from about 100 networks that use Ericsson equipment and extrapolated to generate the global statistics, do not include Wi-Fi, mobile WiMax or DVB-H traffic, it should be noted.)

In order to keep up with that data traffic growth, Ericsson believes operators will need to deploy small cells to supplement the capacity and coverage of their macro base station networks in some places. That's in keeping with the vendor's Heterogeneous Network (HetNet) vision and in line with the expectations of other major vendors. (See Ericsson Preps New Small Cells , Vodafone CTO Opens Up on Small Cells, 4G World 2012: Cisco Talks 'Multi-Mode' on Small Cells and AT&T: How Small Cells Fit the Big Picture.)

What's new, though, is Ericsson's view on the number of small cells that may, on average, be required.

By 2017, Ericsson expects each macro base station in urban areas will be supplemented by about three small cells. Today, there are about 5 million macro base stations deployed worldwide and those in metro areas account for about 15 percent of the total -- so, about 750,000.

Therefore (and this is just to satisfy our own statistical curiosity), if Ericsson's prediction was accurate and each of those had three supplementary small cells, that would amount to 2.25 million tiny base stations by 2017 (if the number of macro base stations remained constant, of course...).

Heavy Reading has forecast that there will be 500,000 public access small cells in live service worldwide by 2015. (See Small Cell Backhaul: What, Why and How - by Heavy Reading.)

"You have to start with improving the macro network -- that's your best return on investment," says Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Gabriel Brown. "You'll need small cells for capacity in urban areas, particularly for cell edge performance."

Brown explains that cell edge performance is important because operators are starting to differentiate on coverage again. But it's different now from how operators built their networks for good voice coverage. Rather, operators are looking to ensure decent data coverage so that users' applications will work well.

People are starting to talk about 'app coverage' or 'app-centric coverage'," says Brown. "Small cells help with the cell edge performance as well as capacity."

Ericsson agrees that small cells aren't the only answer to the challenge of improving mobile network performance and that the macro cells are still vital. The vendor's senior vice president for networks, Johan Wibergh, believes operators should have a three-stage approach to dealing with mobile data capacity issues: Improve existing macro base station networks by adding capacity or 'carriers', or by upgrading the technology; then, add more macro base stations -- that is, "densify" the network; and, finally, complement certain macro base stations with small cells.

Whether operators could afford such a capex-intensive strategy is another matter.

For more



— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Michelle Donegan
50%
50%
Michelle Donegan,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:17:15 PM
re: Ericsson's Small-Cell Crystal Ball


So that's Ericsson's view on small cell volumes. I'd be interested to know what others think -- does their projection sound low? Or about right?

Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
NEXT COURSE
Wednesday, September 28, 1:00PM EDT
Gigabit 101
Will Barkis, Senior Technology Analyst, Orange
UPCOMING COURSE SCHEDULE
Friday, September 30, 1:00PM EDT
Gigabit & the Great Migration
Robert Howald, Vice President, Network Architecture, Comcast
Wednesday, October 5, 1:00PM EDT
Gigabit & Smart Cities
Joe Kochan, COO & Co-Founder, US Ignite
Friday, October 7, 1:00PM EDT
Gigabit & DOCSIS 3.1
Ty Pearman, Director, Access Architecture, Comcast
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Documentaries
MEC Congress: The Key Takeaways

9|22|16   |   03:25   |   (3) comments


Three key takeaways from the Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) Congress in Munich, Germany.
Wagner’s Ring
Time to Shut Up About 'Dumb Pipes'

9|22|16   |     |   (12) comments


Service providers can't compete with OTT players. It just isn't in their DNA. Instead, service providers need to embrace what they're good at -- providing reliable, secure connectivity.
Wagner’s Ring
Keeping Your Tech Career Going After 50

9|21|16   |     |   (13) comments


How do you keep your career moving forward when you're past the half-century mark?
LRTV Interviews
Peering Into the Digital Future

9|20|16   |   04:25   |   (0) comments


Nick Thomas, practice leader of digital media at Ovum, talks about how digital transformation in the technology, media and telecom sectors will enable the development of a new range of applications and services for enterprises and consumers and how the upcoming Digital Futures event in London will examine ...
LRTV Custom TV
Napatech Tackles NFV's Major Challenge

9|7|16   |   08:42   |   (0) comments


One of the main challenges for network operators introducing NFV is to combine performance and flexibility in a cost-effective way, but there is a solution, explains Napatech's Dan Joe Barry.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei Optical Innovation 2016

9|6|16   |     |   (0) comments


Highlights of the 2016 Huawei Optical Innovation forum.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Are You Ready for Huawei Connect 2016?

8|31|16   |     |   (0) comments


Join us for an exclusive sneak peak of Huawei Connect, an integrated conference for the global ICT ecosystem taking place in Shanghai.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat: UXP's Gemini Waghmare

8|26|16   |     |   (0) comments


Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders and UXP Systems CEO Gemini Waghmare discuss the strategic importance of digital identity for operators in the midst of transformation.
LRTV Custom TV
F5 Virtual Network Function Integrations With Partner Orchestration Platform

8|24|16   |   6:38   |   (0) comments


F5's Kishore Patnam, product manager for F5's service provider solutions, discusses why service providers are moving towards virtualization and how his clients are utilizing F5's solutions.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat: Intel's Alexis Black Bjorlin

8|17|16   |   06:23   |   (0) comments


Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Accelerating Telecom Digital Transformation With Nominum DNS

8|1|16   |   12:04   |   (0) comments


Light Reading's Steve Saunders gets an update from Nominum CEO Gary Messiana on how his company is helping carriers on the digital transformation journey.
LRTV Custom TV
Reinventing Operations for a Virtual, Software-Defined World

7|28|16   |   5:23   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Jim Hodges speaks with Accenture's Larry Socher and Matt Anderson about what service providers must do to transform their business to get the benefits of SDN and NFV including: leveraging DevOps, introducing real-time OSS and implementing analytics.
Upcoming Live Events
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 1, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Hot Topics
Keeping Your Tech Career Going After 50
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 9/21/2016
Time to Shut Up About 'Dumb Pipes'
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 9/22/2016
Comcast Will Go Wireless in 2017
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 9/20/2016
Sprint CEO: We'll Lease Spectrum as Soon as Possible
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 9/20/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders and UXP Systems CEO Gemini Waghmare discuss the strategic importance of digital identity for operators in the midst of transformation.
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
Animals with Phones
You Thought Your Customer Service Was Unreliable... Click Here
Live Digital Audio

A vital part of increasing the number of women in comms is transforming the ways companies can support and empower women. While progressive company policies that support both men and women in achieving work-life balance are a step in the right direction, creating a company culture that supports those policies can at times be more challenging.

During this show, we'll talk to Lynn Comp, Senior Director of Industry and Sales Enabling (ISE) in the Network Platforms Group at Intel, about why those challenges exist and how companies can overcome them. She'll provide insight into how Intel has worked to create a culture that supports work-life balance, and provide steps and guidance for other companies wishing to do the same. We will also leave plenty of time to get your questions answered live on the air.