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Huawei Releases Small Cell White Paper: Five Trends to Small Cell 2020

Feb 22, 2016

[Barcelona, Spain, February 21, 2016] At the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2016 in Barcelona, Spain, Huawei released its small cell white paper titled “Five Trends to Small Cell 2020”, explaining Huawei's stance on the development of the small cell industry. Huawei small cell is committed to helping operators build an open and converged small cell network that supports future-oriented sustained evolution.

The number of global mobile broadband (MBB) users is expected to reach 6.7 billion by 2020. The cellular Internet of Things is predicted to register 1 billion connections worldwide. With the growing popularity of VoLTE, 4K video, virtual reality, and smart wearable and implantable devices, daily single-user mobile traffic is likely to exceed 5 GB. This level of traffic will cause the network to fall short of the increasing expectations of service experience.

At the same time, accelerating urbanization will surely create even more hotspots in urban areas, making data traffic more unevenly distributed. Ryan Ding, Executive Director of Huawei and President of Products & Solutions, pointed out: “‘Gbps’ provides users with instantaneously delivered services; ‘Experience 4.0’ makes HD audios and videos accessible from anywhere; and ‘Connection+’ will open up a new world of ubiquitous connectivity.”

As pointed out by Peter Zhou, President of Huawei's Small Cell Product Line, at the MWC2016, “Small cells play an increasingly important role in mobile broadband networks. This technology can build digital highways in hotspot areas to eliminate coverage holes and improve user experience, which is key to realizing people-to-people, people-to-thing, and thing-to-thing connections. "

To meet the needs of mobile broadband development, small cells will facilitate the following five trends:

  1. Small Cells to Build Brand-New Business Models and Industrial Ecosystems: Small cells will be deployed closer to end users, which allows for increased value-added services, while creating new business models and contributing to the construction of a new industry ecosystem.
  2. Indoor Digitalization to Drive MBB Upgrade: A shift toward digital solutions will facilitate the transformation of indoor coverage systems to accommodate high definition voice and video services to sustain and further improve upon MBB industry growth.
  3. Multimode, Multiband, Backhaul Integrated Outdoor Small Cells to Match Diverse Site Resources: Small cells will achieve higher integration, allowing for multimode, multiband deployment to leverage site resources. Small cells are able to provide wireless backhaul, which allows for better blending into surroundings while facilitating site deployment.
  4. Convergence of Licensed and Unlicensed Spectrum to Improve Spectral Efficiency: Support for licensed-assisted access (LAA) and LTE +Wi-Fi link aggregation (LWA) allows for combined deployment of licensed and unlicensed spectra to maximize spectral efficiency and rapidly improve user experience.
  5. Ubiquitous Small Cells to Drive the Evolution of Network Architecture: Small cell network controllers will be constructed on new architecture and allow a large number of small cells to be supplemented on existing networks at reduced TCOs to provide added "pipe" services.

80% of mobile traffic is generated indoors, especially in public locations. The tidal effect is becoming more prominent than ever. Distributed antenna systems (DAS) are unable to provide sufficient network capacity and meet MBB development demands. As remarked by Peter Zhou, transforming indoor networks through indoor digitalization into indoor MBB networks that allows for ultra large capacity, software-defined solutions, and long-term evolution is inevitable for MBB development. Indoor digital networks, like running water and electricity, will be regarded as an indispensable prerequisite during the planning and selection of buildings.

Outdoor hotspots, particularly those in downtown areas, are experiencing difficulty in acquiring macro sites. It is widely accepted that outdoor small cells will play a more important role in addressing this issue. In the future, outdoor small cells must blend into its surroundings nicely and support easy deployment, multimode multiband applications on single devices, and wireless backhaul while providing huge bandwidth. As pointed out by Peter Zhou, support for easy deployment and coordination with macro networks is essential to supplementing the coverage and capacity of macro networks and improving spectral efficiency and user experience.

Unlicensed spectrum solutions improve user experience at the cost of extensive use of large bandwidth, which hinders long-term MBB development. Combining licensed and unlicensed spectrum using technology like licensed-assisted access (LAA) to maximize spectral efficiency is inevitable. This spectral combination can also help realize co-existence with existing Wi-Fi networks to improve user experience. Due to the power constraints of unlicensed spectrum, the combination of licensed and unlicensed spectrum is mainly applied to indoor small cells. Huawei's one-box solution allows a single device to simultaneously use unlicensed and licensed spectrum and supports SDR-based network evolution to reduce the TCO of cellular networks.

Massive small cell deployment requires brand-new network architecture. Peter Zhou has emphasized that the new architecture must allow small cell networks to realize network convergence, coordinated management, and streamlined O&M. At the same time, such architecture must help ease small cell deployment with reduced costs, facilitate fast and scaled deployments, and improve the performance of heterogeneous networks. This requires the deployment of devices such as the Service Anchor to enable the massive deployment easy and efficient convergence with macro networks to reduce the number of network nodes.

Small cell networks are usually deployed in public urban buildings, making it more important for small cells to blend into their surroundings. Site acquisitions for small cells are therefore more involved with the building proprietors. Allowing proprietors to benefit more from small cell deployment is essential to creating new business models, encouraging their help to improve network quality, and reducing the network deployment TCO for operators. Huawei's Service Anchor is a small cell capability openness platform that bridges small cell networks and value-added services to end subscribers. This platform allows operators, proprietors, and service developers and integrators to mutually benefit and help build a favorable ecosystem for small cell development.

By releasing “Five Trends to Small Cell 2020”, Huawei hopes to share its understanding of small cell development with its partners to work together and contribute to building a fully-connected world.

Click Five Trends to Small Cell 2020 to download the small cell white paper.

MWC 2016 will be held in Barcelona, Spain from February 22 to 25. Huawei will showcase its latest products and solutions at Fira Gran Via Hall 1 and Hall 3.