This blog is by Andy Burrell at Nokia Networks.
As the last in our mini-series looking at the challenges of small cell deployment, this blog considers different ways for operators to build their networks in order to deliver top Quality of Experience (QoE) with as few sites as possible.
Thus far in our blog mini-series, we’ve answered questions and offered proven strategies related to the overall challenges of deploying small cells. Now we’re wrapping up with a view to how operators can use a novel deployment business model to deliver higher Quality of Experience (QoE) using significantly fewer sites.
Operators have a wide variety of deployment options to consider including the straightforward ‘deploy and operate our own sites’, to buying in everything with a complete ‘small cells-as-a-service’ model.
Somewhere in between these two extremes is the ‘neutral host model’, in which operators share small cell sites. The model was used recently by some US operators to support a visit by the Pope.
This approach can have major cost advantages compared to each operator going it alone. A study by Nokia investigated how many small cell sites would be needed to deliver the same QoE using the neutral host model compared to each of three operators deploying its own small cell networks. The investigation first examined the level of QoE delivered by the existing macro network to a specified urban area. The results showed that deploying a small cell network provided a substantial boost of up to 35% in the ‘baseline’ QoE measured in terms of the number of subscribers receiving 1.8 Mbps downlink throughput.
The study also found that only 25 shared sites were needed in the neutral host deployment compared to 57 sites required if the operators used the ‘go-it-alone’ method. That represents a 56% saving in the number of sites, leading to a significant reduction in costs.
These savings derive from the neutral host business model itself and are not related to any specific small cells products. However, if operators choose to adopt a neutral host model, the Nokia Flexi Zone solution can bring additional benefits such as compact form factor and speedy installation, making it easier for several operators to share a single site. Flexi Zone’s remarkable capacity also makes network sharing possibilities such as MORAN and MOCN* viable for operators.
Of course, the viability of the neutral host model ultimately depends on the local market situation and the individual challenges facing each operator. One size does not fit all which is why a flexible approach in response to operator and market needs is essential. Nokia provides consulting, planning, implementation and optimization services to help make small cell deployment easy and effective.
Your handy guide to small cell deployment
Here is our complete small cell blog mini-series based on typical questions we’ve received. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions and share your comments below.
- Small cell deployments: you don’t have to learn the hard way – shows how an apparently large number of potential sites in a city may not be so numerous when we take all the cost and restrictions into account
- Small cell barrier: Nokia brings predictability to site planning – explains a new way to plan small cell deployment that eliminates uncertainty about costs
- What if small cells become part of the furniture? – examined deployment and how we are partnering with site owners to gain access to street furniture in cities across the globe, making it easier to get the sites you need
- 7 ways to pull down costs while putting up small cells – offers 7 innovative ways to cut the costs of installing small cell hardware and software
- 3 ways Nokia is solving the small cell backhaul blues – looks at how Nokia’s products, planning and partners can be the secret to tackling the thorny issue of backhaul for small cells
* For an in-depth discussion about Multi-Operator Radio Access Networks (MORANs), also known as Radio Access Network sharing, and Multi-Operator Core Network (MOCN), please read this excellent article by Analysys Mason.
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