This blog is by Stephane Daeuble, portfolio marketing manager at Nokia Networks.
In a previous blog, we talked about the unprecedented performance demands that small cells are now being asked to meet. Many mass events prove the point with even macro cells struggling to cope with the load. Similarly, many small cells serving hot spots and hot zones are now seeing significant loading of up to 150 simultaneous users per cell, and this trend will only continue.
This is why the unique ability of the Nokia Flexi Zone small cell solution to handle 600 users at a time is so important. Achieving this figure took some ‘top down thinking’. Instead of using the Femto or small cell chipsets on the market, we took our Macro cell chipsets and shrank them into one. The result was a small cell that is not only the smallest in the industry, but packs more punch with the same capacity and features as our macro cells.
600 users on 1 small cell? Yes!
This means our Flexi Zone small cells can run the same software as our macro cells, so we can provide the full capabilities of our LTE Smart Scheduler. Competitors, with their less capable chipsets, can run only a limited and less feature-rich scheduler.
Why is a scheduler so important? It shares the resources of the cell among the users, achieving the best possible performance and capacity. Quite simply, the scheduler can mean the difference between a poor service and a great one, particularly in heavy load scenarios.
Flexi Zone can deliver significantly higher capacity for small cells, even in noisy environments. In fact, under light loads, Flexi Zone can offer 10-30% better performance than its small cell rivals because it employs the same advanced scheduler as its bigger brothers. The scheduler has proven itself on many occasions to deliver a high performance in the noisy environments typical of most small cell deployments, which operate in the same channel as the macros.
Where it gets really interesting, however, is when the small cell becomes increasingly loaded, it maintains the same key performance indicators (KPIs) with up to 400 active users on a Flexi Zone indoor base station and 600 active users on a Flexi Zone outdoor base station. In contrast, the KPIs of other small cells or femtos degrade as the number of users the scheduler has to handle rises.
Scheduling beyond the 128 barrier
In fact, when other small cell solutions reach their limits, be it 32, 64 or 128 simultaneous users, they simply stop scheduling some users – leaving them with no service at all. As Flexi Zone passes the 128 barrier, users will continue to be scheduled and still achieve speeds of 1-2 Mbps (based on recent experience). What this means for you and me is that service doesn’t suddenly stop. We would continue receiving packets, be able to make and receive voice calls, and get all the other typical services ─ even the demanding ones like VoLTE with its low latency and high Quality of Service demands.
Flexi Zone also has sufficient processing power to offer a number of advanced interference mitigation techniques that go beyond LTE 3GPP standards. Nokia launched some of these techniques during 2014 and will be releasing more to further boost real-life performance.
As small cells move towards maximizing data capacity and become less about coverage, operators can be assured that Flexi Zone – with its LTE smart scheduler, advanced HetNet features and spare baseband processing capacity – will be there to take the heat out of hot zones.
So stay tuned for more innovations to come and check out the recently demonstrated industry-first Small Cell LTE-A Carrier Aggregation.
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