As worldwide Mobile Broadband Traffic heads toward 200 Exabytes per year, operators deploy 4G LTE, LTE-A, look for more spectrum, and also try to optimize usage with the help of better policies and pricing. However, the physics of mobile broadband radio do not follow Moore’s Law of digital scaling, so leading-edge operators are ready to address the physical realities of small cells.
Nevertheless, the question remains; why not deploy carrier grade Wi-Fi with the small cells?
Industry advocates and operators are calling for more spectrum, and with HotSpot 2.0 gaining traction, operators should consider unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum and Small Cells with Carrier Grade Wi-Fi as part of their portfolio. “Wi-Fi is an integral part of the smartphone and tablet experience,” says Joe Hoffman, practice director, mobile networks, ABI Research, “and operators will do well to make Carrier Wi-Fi a part of that experience.”
Mobile Operators, led by top-tier firms such as China Mobile and AT&T are incorporating Wi-Fi solutions in their HetNet architectures and many other operators will follow. “The added capacity and incremental economics of incorporating Wi-Fi into a HetNet portfolio are almost self-evident,” adds Hoffman. This research highlights both infrastructure and specialist vendors and their approaches to Small Cell and Wi-Fi integration. Additionally, the discussion includes the challenges facing integration and their solutions.
Deploying a Small Cell with an integrated Wi-Fi solution is part of an overall strategy that operators will find maximizes the investment return from Small Cells. These additions leverage the investment of Small Cell deployments and require an incremental CapEx to add Wi-Fi into the solution mix.