It’s no secret that mobile networks are under tremendous stress, and data capacity is at an all-time high. Consumers want and require constant connectivity and the standards have become very high, making operators play catch-up with the higher set of expectations from customers.
Take airport Wi-Fi as an example…just a few years ago it did not even exist, and today, customers are outraged when it is not available or it is of poor quality. The feeling has become that Wi-Fi, cellular connectivity and the ability to connect is no longer a service, but a common human right.
The emergence of heterogeneous networks looked to solve this problem. By bringing the network closer to the user, network operators were able to increase capacity and decrease lag. However, complexity exploded and the need for more backhaul and location were only a few of the problems that have been encountered in the past. But as the demand grows and adapts, the HetNet has had to grow and adapt too. Suddenly networks need to guarantee performance for all their data hungry customers, who want to use the mobile networks for video streaming and gaming.
Small cells and Wi-Fi (and DAS, specifically for North American venues) have been popular choices for carriers in North America and it is easy to see why. They offer a flexible, scaled solution to fill in gaps in the macro layer and ensure performance in the most demanding areas. Often seen as competing solutions, as the adaptation continues for networks, these competitors have become complimentary, and the focus has changed to how to further increase their compatibility. The emergence of LTE-U or LAA has further driven this point home, moving beyond the promise and later deployment of small cell and Wi-Fi incorporated boxes.
But with new solutions come new headaches, as carriers must carefully consider the backhaul to these cell sites where expensive fibre is not possible, and how can these sometimes thousands of cells be managed? C-RAN technology has emerged from the Asian region, where multiple, distributed radio heads are controlled from a central base station that can help control the traffic, as a possible solution.
The issues for a carrier, both technological and commercial will be a hot topic throughout the year and we can expect them to change and adapt as we head towards 5G. HetNet North America, taking place in New York on May 5th & 6th will be the host of high-level discussions around HetNet deployments and evolution.
Featured speakers include:
Eduardo Marchetti, VP of Technology, Sprint
Paula Doublin, AVP, Construction and Engineering, AT&T
Anzar Hasan, SME, IT Audit, Verizon
Jonathan Levine, Member of Technical Staff, US Cellular
Edward Stewart, RF Support & Optimization, Sasktel
Manuel Vera, Wireless Network Expert, Bell Mobility