Although conventional macro cell towers provide excellent wide-area wireless-communications coverage, the deployment of small-cell networks offers a more cost-effective solution that delivers high levels of mobile data capacity to both indoor and outdoor venues. Qualcomm Technologies, in collaboration with Sprint and NASCAR, recently demonstrated the second phase of an over-the-air trial of a Long Term Evolution (LTE) time-division-duplex (TDD) hyper-dense small-cell network.

The Phoenix International Raceway was chosen as the venue for the demonstration because of its large fan attendance during NASCAR races and the challenging radio frequency (RF) conditions and high demand for mobile data during the events. For the trial, Qualcomm installed 31 small-cell base stations in the garage area of the raceway to test density limits, measure network performance capabilities, and quantify the potential impact on users’ mobile-communications experiences. The hyper-dense network had an equivalent density of 1000 cells/km2 and operated on Sprint’s band 41 LTE-TDD spectrum.

The network was built with Airspan’s AirSynergy 2000 LTE-Advanced Pico Base Stations, which are powered by Qualcomm’s small-cell chipsets and UltraSON (Self Organizing Network) technology. The combination of technologies was previously demonstrated in November, 2013 to show improvement of wireless data performance and quality of service (QoS) while reducing signaling load to the network.

Although it has proven to be a viable solution for wireless backhaul applications, small-cell networks still have some challenges to overcome (see Wireless-Backhaul Strategies Focus On Small-Cell Networks on Microwaves & RF). The technology’s low installation costs, modest physical footprint, and potential to relieve pressure put on macro networks, however, has become a building block for next-generation networks.