The need for mass indoor small cell deployments to provide sufficient capacity has been overhyped for GSM, 3G and currently LTE networks, but has failed to materialise. Small cells seem to be growing in size and moving outside, while their numbers remain small, so what will make it different for 5G?
The UK spectrum auction for 3.4GHz has already been labeled as 5G by the press. While the increase in spectrum provided by the auction process may delay the need to densify the networks, it ventures into spectrum which cannot provide indoor coverage from the macro network. The only promise of more spectrum is at the higher GHz frequencies, which will surely make small cells a requirement, but specifications of their use and technology for cost-effective deployment seem to continually recede as focus is maintained on the evolution of the LTE networks.
Is there sufficient impetus to overcome the barriers of planning, logistics and operational costs of a dense small cell network in the near future?
In the UK, the DCMS 5G Testbed and Trials programme has provided £25m to promote six projects across the country. Meanwhile the planned, larger scale, 5G Urban Connected Communities Project envisages holistic solutions to the design of networks, with a mix of technologies, which might include a “dense network of small cells” in dense demand areas.
As the buzz of 5G grows ever louder in our ears, what is the reality of 5G for small cell deployments in the UK?
This event is curated by the CW Small Cell Special Interest Group and delivered on behalf of UK5G.