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Small cells

A Long-Term Plan for Small Cell Backhaul

Each of the companies featured in this month's Heavy Reading Mobile Networks Insider report, "Small Cells to Create a Bigger Backhaul Opportunity," were asked to submit a case study to illustrate how their solution is being utilized in a "real world" scenario. One of the most interesting of those responses was provided by Cambridge Broadband Networks, which is working with Telefónica UK Ltd. (O2) to help backhaul the operator's first public small cell WiFi network in London.

The small cell WiFi network consists of more than 100 WiFi access points mounted on street furniture, such as lampposts, across the London boroughs of Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea, to deliver a great outdoor WiFi experience for O2's customers in London.

Traffic from the WiFi network will be aggregated across the mesh and transferred to several Cambridge Broadband Networks Ltd. 's VectaStar Metro point-to-multipoint nodes, where it will be backhauled to a hub in central London.

According to Cambridge, "Small cells offer an enormous opportunity for operators to deliver high-speed and high-capacity data access to their subscribers. But the significant uplift in the number of radios needed for a small cell network, compared to today's macrocellular networks, requires a new approach to backhaul."

These are just some of the findings. This report also examines the small cell backhaul market, analyzing features most commonly found in today's solutions, strongest drivers in the market, verticals that show promise and challenges the industry faces. It includes a comparative analysis of solutions available, examines the geographic landscape of the market and details trends that are likely to occur in the industry over the next 18 to 24 months.

As both vendors and operators take a page out of Cambridge's and O2's book -- seeking for "new approaches to backhaul" -- the real promise of small cell backhaul will be realized. Obviously, it is enough that operators are enticed by the promise of lower-cost upgrades to their networks -- especially networks that service high-traffic areas. But as network traffic eventually is addressed, vendors must have secondary and tertiary plans for small cell backhaul to succeed in the long term.

— Denise Culver, Research Analyst, Heavy Reading Mobile Networks Insider


Small Cells to Create a Bigger Backhaul Opportunity, a 28-page report in PDF format, is available as part of an annual subscription (six issues) to Heavy Reading Mobile Networks Insider, priced at $1,499. Individual reports are available for $595. To subscribe, please visit: www.heavyreading.com/mobile-networks.

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