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To site share or not to site share? A small cell update from TNMO

To site share or not to site share? A small cell update from TNMO
Julius Robson, Wireless Technology Specialist, CBNL

In my capacity as Vice Chair of the Backhaul Group at the Small Cell Forum I was fortunate enough to chair an afternoon session at the recent TNMO event in London.

The session covered many small cell and microwave backhaul themes of the day and came to some interesting conclusions.

This included the common agreement that TCO is likely to drive small cell site sharing and that wired and wireless technologies will live together in the world of small cell backhaul.

Here’s more details and some of the other notable themes from the day...

TCO to drive site sharing

Will operators share small cell sites or retain exclusivity for competitive differentiation?

This was the question asked of groups discussing commercial models and multi-operator small cells.

Interestingly a similar conclusion was reached by both: Sharing of the sites and backhaul would be needed in order to drive down total cost of ownership (TCO).

We’re yet to see how this will play out, however I suspect local authorities may also have a view on sharing.

It may seem unfair to only allow one operator exclusive use of publicly owned assets, only benefiting part of the local population.

Local authorities may lay down regulations that sites under their control (lamppost, etc) must be shared.

Although site sharing and backhaul may be likely, the groups at TNMO firmly believed the small cells themselves would remain operator specific to enable freedom of technology choice and spectrum.

Wireless vs. wired

The key conclusion from TNMO was both technologies will play a key role for small cell backhaul and that wireless would be used in a complementary fashion with wired solutions.

Fibre is going to be extremely expensive to get to the exact location operators may require, even if they have existing fibre nearby.

A likely scenario is to complement a fibre backbone with wireless technologies which can quickly link up those hard to reach small cell locations.

Backhaul not a barrier

I presented an update on the Small Cell Forum’s recently completed backhaul white paper, defining small cell use cases, backhaul requirements and the solutions available.

The conclusion (and great news) is that the solutions currently available meet all the use case requirements and that backhaul is not a barrier. I discussed this in my blog post last month.

LTE-A and small cell to get Carrier Ethernet specifications

There was interesting news from the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) as they presented plans to extend their Carrier Ethernet specifications for LTE-A and small cells – expect to see something in 2014.

If you attended TNMO (or even if you didn’t) I’d love to hear your thoughts on the themes discussed in the comments below…

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