There's little doubt that small cells will be big news at Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona next month, even if the market for public domain small cell rollout isn't set to take off as quickly as some had hoped. (See How Heavy Reading Called Small Cells Right.)
While we're certain to see the latest models that can be deployed right now (indoors and outdoors), I expect (indeed, hope) to see companies talking about the backhaul and power supply support that small cells need if they are to be deployed successfully.
Small cell backhaul is already a hot niche topic in the vendor community and figuring in the plans of wholesale operators. (See Backhauling Small Cells, Small Cells: The Battle for the Lamp Post, Backhaul Tweaks Support HetNet Growth , Vodafone Tests Siklu Small-Cell Backhaul, and ZTE Tackles LTE Small-Cell Backhaul.)
Bell Labs , which is being asked to align its work more closely with the strategic direction of its parent company, is also looking at solutions to the power and backhaul challenge, as I discovered when trawling back through some of the small cell-related announcements made late last year. (See AlcaLu Breathes New Life Into Bell Labs.)
The Bell Labs team in Dublin, Ireland, is collaborating with researchers at the University of Edinburgh to tackle the small cells challenge. The Bell Labs team has been investigating how laser beams could be used to power small cells, while the Edinburgh team, working with spin-out startup pureLiFi, is working on the use of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) for data communications. Now the two teams are combining their research to develop an integrated solution that, they hope, will result in small cells being able to be deployed anywhere without the need for connecting cables.
It's that sort of venture that will help to make small cell deployments viable in the future: let's hope we see a number of such developments in Barcelona.
- Top 6 Small Cells Movers & Shakers
- Small Cells Exposed! Securing the Mini-RANs
- Omnitron: Give Me PoE, Quoth the Small Cell
- AT&T Sings Song of Small Cells With HARP
- The Tall Order for Small Cell Backhaul
- Synching Up Small-Cell Backhaul
— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading