The reason for this is simple: The closer you can get the radio to the end user, the faster the uploads and downloads. This is a particular consideration in high-traffic city areas where there are lots of users texting, emailing and watching video.
There is, however, a sting in the tail for carriers thinking of deploying these networks. Just as it seemed they were getting a handle on deploying enough capacity to backhaul faster 3G and nascent 4G networks, along came small cells to throw a spanner in the works again.
They present a distinct set of challenges:
Backhaul connectivity: It is not often going to be practical to run fiber up a lamppost to a small cell base station. Microwave and -- possibly -- free space optics could prove to be an alternative.
Cost: Clearly, carriers won't want to spend $10,000 to backhaul a $1,000 radio.
Capacity: Already the industry is looking at clusters of radios that each carry hundreds of megabits of data traffic simultaneously. Small cell backhaul will still need to be a fat pipe.
Ease of deployment: Operators may need to add small cells fast to keep up with user traffic. The backhaul will need to be right there behind it.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile