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Hiley out and about – The Femto World Summit
We catch up with VP of Marketing, Lance Hiley, as he returns from The Femtocells World Summit 2011.
“At last month’s Femtocells World Summit in London I witnessed operators professing the benefits of small cells and how they would deliver higher capacity, increased coverage and greater customer satisfaction. With data revenues on the verge of surpassing voice revenues on many networks, for an increasing number of mobile operators, it is the packet data business that they are in now – not mobile phones! As a result the industry focus on small cells continues to gather momentum.
“Innovative solutions were in abundance at the event. Dr Alan Law of Vodafone Group discussed the ‘Metrozone’ concept, which provides extra network capacity for data offload in dense urban areas and consists of metrocells being deployed on street furniture and buildings.
“Colt Telecoms’ Peter Agnew, who discussed Femto-as-a-service (FaaS) and self-organising networks, proposed that in working with a fixed line operator, mobile operators will have an ally in femtocell deployment, aiding connectivity, quality of service and increasing access to enterprises.
“Contending with rumbling stomachs, Cisco’s Mark Grayson took the pre-lunch slot to discuss dealing with bursty data traffic peaks and suggested using converged Wi-Fi/femto architectures for macro offload
of indoor traffic.
“The innovative solutions on show in London may well provide an answer to overcrowded networks, however they have one thing in common if they are to be successful - they need to be connected back to the mobile network. The challenge for operators will be to do that quickly, cost effectively and without compromising the shape of the traffic from customer devices.
“Recent research from Dr John Naylon, Head of Research and Development at CBNL, demonstrated data changes dramatically depending on the number of devices in the cell and what they are doing. Cells containing fewer devices have a higher peak-to-mean ratio of their aggregated traffic because there is less ‘averaging out’ of the individual users’ data demands.
“This is very similar to what operators will experience when they densify their networks by adding small cells. Their networks will see a widening of the peak-to-mean ratio due to fewer devices contending for the resources.
“This change in shape of traffic poses a challenge to operators – how to backhaul provision to the small cells. Make it too low and the traffic will be truncated according to the performance of the backhaul. The net result? Capacity and coverage improvements but not a step-change in performance.
“Enter multipoint wireless backhaul. Here at CBNL we’ve been saying for a while that mobile broadband networks need more cells to deliver a better quality of experience to mobile subscribers. Given the challenge to roll-out hundreds of outdoor small cells quickly, operators should be considering point-to-multipoint wireless backhaul as a fast and cost effective way to provision backhaul to those sites.