Mobile data has now become such an important part of consumers’ everyday lives and needs, it’s hard to imagine a time (not long ago!) without it.
Take these numbers, for instance, aggregated by Cisco and included in their Visual Networking Index:
- This year, smartphones and tablets represent 65% of all data connections
- By 2018, that is projected to grow to 93%
- Mobile data being generated is growing at a consistent rate of 61% each year
- Most of the growth and demand is being led by the increasing use of video streaming for social media, movies, sports, and more
It’s certainly clear that this trend is here and growing significantly. Network operators and carriers who want to stay ahead and not be left in the dust therefore must increasingly meet these needs and provide their customers with the coverage and capacity necessary.
Of course, any carrier will tell you that this is a lot easier than it sounds; meeting coverage and capacity needs is a multi-faceted challenge. One way in which providers are trying to meet these needs is through the use of small cells, which offer many advantages, but these small cells bring with them their own challenges. Their coverage is limited, mainly due to their limited power—therefore, their placement makes all the difference.
Small cells must be placed strategically, while avoiding environmental and man-made obstacles, otherwise they’re ineffective. As a result, there are a number of new technologies that are helping carriers navigate the location challenges and make the right choices for small cell placement.
One of the increasingly effective tools being used are geo-location/mapping analyses that find specific geographic hot spots, including buildings and even street corners, providing highly specific evaluations of these areas and helping to determine how many cells are needed to cover an area, and exactly where they should be placed.
Another increasingly popular method is the use of automation, specifically known as Self-Optimizing Network (SON) solutions, which automatically adjusts network configurations, an extremely important part of small cell deployment. This makes the process faster, while analyzing usage and making recommendations for small cell sites.
Technology is growing every day, making the network analytics that much more precise, providing advanced visualization and troubleshooting tools, furthering the understanding of efficient, effective small cell placement. It’s also safe to assume that this will continue to advance.
For carriers to meet customers’ needs and stay competitive, the use of small cells and their accompanying location technology is necessary, and luckily, many are finding it to be a great way to overcome certain challenges.