LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2014: Vodafone and Korea Telecom are among the mobile operators rapidly increasing small cell deployment as they seek to offload traffic from macro networks in urban areas.
“Small cells are a very important part of our network portfolio,” said Miguel Marin, Vodafone’s access director, who was speaking on a small cells panel at MWC.
Vodafone plans to install more than 70,000 small cells, including pico and femtocells, by March 2016 in an effort to handle rising data traffic.
Small cells enabled Vodafone to offload between 25 per cent and 30 per cent of macro traffic in a dense outdoor area of Barcelona, according to Marin.
And “in dense urban areas we are increasing indoor coverage with outdoor deployment,” he said.
Meanwhile Korea Telecom has 10,000 femtocells in Seoul and 8,000 in other dense urban areas, according to Yunyoo Lee, vice president strategy business unit, KT, and is looking to introduce small cells in less dense urban areas. Small cells enable the operator to offload approximately 15 per cent of traffic, he said.
But even though small cells have come of age and are delivering benefits, operators want them to be easier to deploy in urban areas as they ramp up scale.
One of the obstacles is accessing the municipal lamp posts and bus shelters where operators would like to place small cells.
”The art is not so much in deploying the technology, but in acquiring the sites,” said Sami Susiaho, head of edge technologies, The Cloud, which has built a 20,000 access point Wi-fi network in the UK.
Vodafone would like to work with cities or aggregators to facilitate site acquisition. The mobile operator would also like small cells to be more compact and to have improved SON capabilities so that they are easier to integrate and manage automatically.