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June 28, 2012
LONDON -- Small Cells World Summit -- Mobile operators that are contemplating small cells but can't work out where to locate the little base stations and create capacity where it's needed most could turn to Twitter Inc. and Flickr for some answers.
No, this isn't about tweeting frustrations about not being able to find the best lampposts in any given city, but it is about tapping the geo-tagging data in those social networking apps to track where people are using them and generating mobile data traffic.
Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), for example, has developed just such a network planning tool for small cells using a social network mashup.
Cisco's app takes the geo-location data from those apps to identify where users are tweeting or sharing photos. Then, that data can be plugged in to another RF planning tool that can help the operator determine where a small cell should be installed and provide more concentrated capacity.
Data from Twitter or Flickr alone won't map out small cell network requirements for operators, but it seems a handy place to start.
It's not exactly a new concept, though. Other companies have tools that mine geo-location information from users to track mobile traffic patterns, such as Arieso Ltd. , Actix Ltd. and Celcite Management Solutions . Additionally, Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) just launched a suite of network planning and management tools and services for small cells (called Metro Cell Express) that include geo-location capabilities aimed at pinpointing where access points should be deployed. (See Actix Analyzes Small Cells and Moto Demos Custom Solutions.)
Network planning is a big challenge for small cell deployments. As Cisco explained here at the Small Cells World Summit, mobile operators' analytics for their macro cell networks are not granular enough to apply toward a small cell rollout. (See Small Cell Network Planning Poses Problems.)
So, it's likely there will be other creative ways, like the social network mashup, to track mobile data usage.
— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile
Michelle Donegan is an independent technology writer who has covered the communications industry for the last 20 years on both sides of the Pond. Her career began in Chicago in 1993 when Telephony magazine launched an international title, aptly named Global Telephony. Since then, she has upped sticks (as they say) to the UK and has written for various publications including Communications Week International, Total Telecom and, most recently, Light Reading.
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