Sprint and Qualcomm have just wrapped up a two-day trial of what they're calling the densest deployment of small cells anywhere.
The trial, which took place March 1-2 at the Nascar Speedway in Phoenix, Ariz., is the second phase of an "over-the-air trial of an LTE TDD hyper-dense small cell network," Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) says. Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and the chipmaker undertook phase one in November at the speedway.
Qualcomm Atheros SVP of Product Management Dan Rabinovitsj says this was also the first trial of the chipmaker's Ultra-SON [self-organizing network] technology. In the November trial, the pair put 31 LTE base stations within a few meters of each other in the pits area of the arena to see how they improved throughput on the network, dealt with handovers, and managed the signaling load to the core network. Rabinovitsj says the results were outstanding.
"Nascar is a great venue because it's worst-case everything," he says. "Deploying a network where there's hundreds of thousands of spectators with mass trucks pulling in, the RF is terrible and changing. It was stress testing our stuff harder than anyone could imagine."
The trial was pretty realistic of a real-world deployment, Rabinovitsj says, because of the huge fan attendance and these natural elements. At the Phoenix International Raceway over the weekend, the trial included 31 small cell base stations using Airspan Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: AIRN)'s AirSyngergy 2000 LTE-Advanced Pico base stations. Qualcomm says the hyper-dense network has an equivalent density of 1000 cells per km2 operating on Sprint's band 41 LTE-TDD spectrum.
Sprint hasn't outlined its specific timeline for further small cell deployments, but has said it will deploy both indoor and outdoor base stations this year. It's working with vendors Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Samsung Corp. , and Nokia Networks on the deployments. (See Sprint Plans Indoor, Outdoor Small Cells in 2014, Sprint Has Samsung 4G LTE Small Cells: Analyst, and Sprint Eyes SDN to Re-Craft Its Core.)
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading