Published On: Wed, Jan 20th, 2016

Small Cell Service

Share This

With the proliferation of smart phones and tablets causing this explosive capacity increase, mobile operators are looking for solutions which could help them reduce the ever-growing strain on their networks and increase profitability. Small cell is one such technology which will play an important role in helping shape the future of mobile networks.

What is small cell? Basically, it is a radio access node that provides localized mobile services based on software-defined, low-power RF profiles using licensed and unlicensed spectrum. Types of small cells are femtocells, picocells, and microcells. WiFi is a small cell but does not operate in licensed spectrum or interoperate with mobile macrocells (self-organizing networks or SON); therefore, it cannot be managed as effectively as small cells that utilize licensed spectrum.

Small cell sites can be installed in homes, offices, or mounted on the outside of a building for a public event. Instead of using bandwidth from a macrocell tower, small cells can backhaul traffic via diverse options; broadband connections such as the DSL or cable Internet in a home, or via Ethernet or Fiber connection inside an office building or public venue.

Benefits of small cell:

  • Lower cost/bit delivery of mobile data services for operators
  • Extended mobile network coverage and range of access
  • Offload macrocells (spectrum efficiency) to cover larger areas
  • Enable service providers with new revenue streams
  • Vital to managing LTE Advanced spectrum more efficiently

The most significant benefit related to small cell is that it is an integral component of future LTE networks. Why? In 3G networks, the function of small cells is as an offload technique. In 4G networks, the mobile network is constructed with layers of small and large cells (heterogeneous network principal or HetNet). With HetNet, all cells will be self-organizing, drawing upon the principles in current Home Node B (3G), and Home eNode B (LTE).

The next-gen innovations in radio access design will feature almost flat architectures where the difference between a small cell and a macrocell depends on how may virtual spectral cubes are stacked together. With software-defined radio, a base station could be 2G, 3G or 4G with a flick of a switch, and the antenna range can easily be tuned.

For more information, contact Elias Aravantinos at or