Road to 4G – How DAS Can Shape Next Gen 4G Networks


By Zia Askari

With exponential advancements in end customer needs on communications, the global LTE market dynamics has evolved well since the launch of the first network in Sweden in December 2009. According to GSMA Intelligence, it is now moving to a more mature phase of development with around 230 commercial LTE networks now in operation and over one billion connections expected by 2017.

And furthermore, the market forecasts indicate that demand for mobile voice, video, and messaging services, together with internet applications, will continue to rise rapidly. These services are set to be delivered over LTE, which is emerging as the preferred 4G technology for cellular network operators globally as well as in India.

With 4G gaining momentum, more and more emphasis will need to be given towards data and moving forward data ARPU (average revenue per user) is also projected to account for a growing proportion of service provider revenue, and hence more bandwidth and user level capacity will be essential in meeting service level quality expectations and sustaining business growth for the operator community.

This is set to drive different sets of use cases for a number of different types of Distributed Antenna System or DAS configurations:

• Micro cell site – this is an outdoor DAS serving a residential complex or neighbourhood, office complex/campus, or other larger footprint local area network.

• Pico cell site – this can be designed to provide in-building wireless coverage to a single floor or building. This has potential to enable smart communications within corporate facilities.

• Femtocell site – is a ‘home gateway’ cellular antenna solution operating in licensed spectrum (and similar to a Wi-Fi wireless router)

Communication concepts around Pico cells will also be critical for 4G migration, ensuring signal clarity, capacity, and coverage inside of buildings. These Pico Cells can dedicatedly provide capacity and significantly reduce the impact of outdoor cellular traffic congestion for the operator’s network.

In such 4G scenarios, public venues, such as Airports, Railway stations, big shopping complexes, or large corporate buildings, will have pico cells supporting multi-band or multioperator communications, and on the other hand, femtocells can handle single-band operation for smaller (residential) locations. Together these two communication building blocks hold potential to create a firm platform for 4G adoption.

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