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Small cells

Top 6 Small Cells Movers & Shakers

Alex Jinsung Choi, Executive Vice President and Head of ICT R&D Division, SK Telecom

The Korean market was a hotbed for early small cell action, and SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM) took a unique approach, deploying data-only LTE and WiFi small cells for indoor coverage at the same time as it rolled out LTE.

It was also the first operator to launch an LTE-Advanced network using carrier aggregation, and it sees LTE-Advanced small cells as the most crucial network element supporting the deployment. (See: SK Telecom Spends Big on Mobile Broadband and SK Telekom Preps Femto Service.)

Alex Jinsung Choi, EVP and Head of SK Telecom's ICT R&D Division, is responsible for developing the carrier's overall ICT vision, helping shape how the network would be built out and keeping it significantly ahead of the rest of the world. He oversaw the deployment of 50,000 femtocells, including 3,000 LTE femtocells. Now, he's leading efforts to develop and apply cell virtualization technologies, aka Super Cells, to enhance network capacity, minimize interference, and improve call quality by removing handover.

The work Choi and his team are doing at SK Telecom is something all the world's operators will want to keep an eye on as they'll look to the Korean operator for inspiration and best-practices.

"Although perhaps less appreciated in the West than it might be, SKT has been a technology pioneer and one of the most aggressive deployers of carrier small cells," says Rupert Baines, CMO of specialist advisory firm Real Wireless. "With extensive rollouts for 3G enterprise and metro coverage, one of the first volume LTE deployments and well-advanced plans for LTE-A, SKT is well worth watching."

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    MikeP688 12/28/2014 | 5:18:36 PM
    Re: How'd we do? We as analysts and observers & "glorified geeks" need to have a broad sense of the technology at hand.   Having just caught up on this analysis leads me to realize that we are yet to truly scratch the surface--and everyone's opinion ultimately matters since I don't think anyone has a monopoly on wisdom per se.   It will be an interesting year, though..that's for sure :-) :-) 
    geneonlbk 12/22/2013 | 7:56:25 AM
    MDI I am wondering if small underserved communities can profit from investing in a Municipal Digital Infrastructure - fiber presence - and offer low CapEx/CapEx to the carriers for small cell deployment?
    DanJones 12/17/2013 | 5:57:21 PM
    Re: How'd we do? Heavy Reading's 700,000 public access small cells in service by the end of 2017 is a pretty conservative prediction compared to many other analyst's expectations. Vendors are not going to be happy if the actual totals are so much less than that.
    solucomp 12/17/2013 | 5:43:25 PM
    Re: How'd we do? Interesting topic as we are directly involved in the deployment of small cells in various markets as well as Wifi for utility companies.

    One key aspect has been missed in this article. Todays backHaul is nowhere close to addressing the demand of small cell traffic and the desired network architecture.

    Most service providers want to use dark fiber to Backhaul Small cell traffic, however less than 20% of targetted small locations can get dark fiber today if you are lucky. keep in mind the top 5 Tier 1 and 2 operators are fighting for available dark fiber. Looks like the landlords have won the lotto 6/49 finally :)

    Microwave and others means are not cost effective and reliable. Lit fiber is an option but Tier 1 operators don't want to entertain such ideas for small cell due to security, and traffic management issues associated with it.

    Latest discussion we had with some major dark fiber providers reveals that besides dense metro areas, it is not cost effective to deploy dark fiber to small cell site location as the ROI just doesn't make sense to the fiber providers.

    700,000 deployments sounds good as marketing campaign but in reality less than 25% can be really deployed in next 2 years.

     
    Sarah Thomas 12/9/2013 | 1:13:25 PM
    Re: How'd we do? Rupert Baines has a long history in small cells at picoChip, later acquired by Mindspeed, and is now an independent analyst at Real Wireless. He was a great resource for this list, so I think it's also worth including his thoughts on a few of our "other people to watch." Here's what he had to say about Saunders, who works with him at Real Wireless, and Mishra from Cisco:

    Dr Simon Saunders, Technical Director, Real Wireless,  "Dr Saunders was the founding Chair of the Forum from 2007 till last year, and was one of the most visible and respected figures in the small cell eco-system. Simon is also Technical Director of Real Wireless, a specialist advisory firm,  and is now working behind the scenes with regulators, investors, key operator groups and OEMs to develop and refine their small cell strategy. While no longer as high-profile, he is probably more influential than ever: the eminence gris of the small cell world"

    Partho Mishra, VP GM Service Provider Access Group. "Cisco's history in small cells is remarkable. Who would have thought that a company that swore it would never do licensed wireless would, almost by accident, become the #1 supplier of base stations in USA. That is by volume, admittedly, but Cisco's ambitions are now clear: they want to be top dog in revenue terms too. And it is logical: small cells ally well with their dominance in enterprise WiFi, and with the IP-isatioon of everything. Responsible for the acquisitions of Intucell, Ubiquisys (as well as Meraki) that challenge is Partho's to deliver"
    Sarah Thomas 12/9/2013 | 1:10:21 PM
    Re: How'd we do? Thanks for the additional suggestions, DAO. Verizon hasn't made as much noise about small cells, but I know they're in its near-term plans, as with AT&T.

    I would argue for both Tarazi and Nick Johnson. Tarazi made the list because of its work with 3G femtocells, primarily, but also because it'l be interesting to watch how he tackles LTE picocells. No carrier has a more complicated network situation than Sprint. If Tarazi can pull it all together with small cells filing the gaps, that'll be a significant accomplishment. We'll see...

    Also, here is what Baines had to say about Johnson: 

    "One of the first companies founded purely to deliver small cells, Dr Johnson can genuinely claim to be a pioneer of this industry. His experience, from GSM to 3G and LTE small cells, supplying ATT and  a host of other operators is unparalleled. Plus, he is one of the best speakers in the industry: it must be the Cambridge influence, but if Stephen Fry were to present on interference mitigation in self organising networks you couldn't hope for a wittier, more insightful talk than Dr Johnson gives."

    DAO 12/5/2013 | 2:15:43 PM
    Re: How'd we do? Sarah - the names are certainly relevant and a good cross-section. That said there are two Bill's worth watching their coming influences. 

    Bill Stone VzW, Exec-Director, Network Strategy

    Bill Hogg, AT&T, SVP Network Planning and Eng.

    No disrespect but Mr. Tarazi's influence in small-cells has been mainly in selecting suppliers and integrating their products. Not a real mover & shaker. 

    Good topic! 

     

    PS. Nick Johnson - really? 
    Sarah Thomas 12/3/2013 | 9:11:20 AM
    How'd we do? So, how did we do? I am sure some of the vendors will be unhappy about being left off or that their competitors weren't, but I'd love to hear from everyone about the inclusions and exclusions on the list.
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