Small cells

Top 6 Small Cells Movers & Shakers

Iyad Tarazi, Sprint's VP of network development and engineering

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s heritage in small cells goes back to its 2G network, offering them to customers to improve voice coverage in the home. It now has more than 1 million CDMA small cells deployed, making it one of the largest residential femtocell operators.

"Most importantly is the way Sprint has captured the business benefits of femtocells in terms of churn reduction and customer life time value in its business planning: the way they link network performance to business goals is something other carriers should watch," says Rupert Baines of consultancy Real Wireless.

Sprint's VP of Network Development and Engineering Iyad Tarazi has led this charge, and he's now taking on the challenge of LTE picocells, but from the unique perspective of a CDMA-turned-LTE operator. (See: 4G Small Cells Step Out and Sprint Tees Up LTE Small Cells.)

It is deploying Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU)'s lightRadio-branded metro cells in its LTE network, alongside Samsung Corp. small cells. The carrier is currently entrenched in deploying the devices in the enterprise and indoor spots such as train stations and big entertainment venues, and it's rumored to already be starting the deployment of a small-cell centric LTE network in some states in the US. Tarazi has said it will really begin focusing on the outdoor market with advanced interference capabilities next year. (See: Sprint Has Samsung 4G LTE Small Cells: Analyst, Sprint's First to Deploy Alcatel-Lucent's lightRadio, and Sprint Taps Samsung for More LTE Small Cells.)

Check out the video below to hear from the man himself, speaking at CTIA in 2012, about what small cells mean to Sprint and its Network Vision.

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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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