Much has been said about the need for small-cell architectures to support the rollout of next-generation telecommunications networks. Given that this is a new model, however, many are trying to understand the specific role of those architectures. In a recently released white paper, Ruckus Wireless explains that WiFi offload has been widely and successfully adopted in areas where subscriber density is high. Examples include urban areas and locations like airports and stadiums. Yet operators also are evaluating the use of femtocells to improve cellular coverage and capacity in residential areas. In addition, small-cell underlays could address high-capacity density while complementing and strengthening WiFi and macro-deployments.
Titled "Dealing with Density: The Move to Small-Cell Architectures," the nine-page paper explains why many solutionsworking in tandemcan and should be considered to accommodate the current and future increase in data traffic. For mobile operators, the challenge is how to best integrate those multiple technologies within their networks. For high-density areas, the paper recommends an approach predicated on lower-power, shorter-range equipment, such as WiFi access points or fourth-generation (4G) small cells installed in close proximity to subscribers. Because their range is limited, any effects of interference will be reduced while capacity density is increased.
The paper functions as a "how-to" lesson, showing readers the relative contribution that different network layers have with easing capacity densityboth for typical urban-morphology cell-range configurations and loaded-network spectral efficiencies. Starting from a third-generation (3G) HSPA baseline, WiFi delivers more than a seven-fold increase in capacity density. The document then concisely describes the challenges that must be addressed when planning for a small-cell underlay network. It goes on to explain how WiFi and LTE small cells will eventually become two network underlays, which are largely overlapping and share many common elements.
The paper ends by asserting that the best strategy is to integrate WiFi and small cells in two phases. This approach includes a short-term capacity enhancement through WiFi offload, which is done as part of a robust, long-term, converged WiFi and cellular solution. During both the short and long terms, both WiFi and small cells can be deployed as needed to accommodate traffic growth.
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