A couple of weeks ago I had a mobile working day – traveling to meetings across the city by public transport and car, parking underground, waiting in buildings, working in cafes. It was a fruitful day, even if frustrating at times as I constantly needed connectivity for calls and getting to my documents in the cloud.
This got me thinking about how digitization affected my day. Digitization increasingly underpins our way of life and is pivotal to productivity. With most applications and data storage moving to the clouds, the digitized way of life relies on consistent good connectivity.
How connected is your country?
Countries around the world are busy building and executing their digitization strategies, also Greenland has one. So not only my work is moving to the cloud but the foundation of our societies are as well.
However, my experience that day shows we are not far enough to achieve the reliable, fast, responsive and available-everywhere connectivity needed to support a smooth digital process. Even with mobile coverage, my cloud access was slow and unreliable at times, even non-existent in certain indoor locations. I couldn’t work as efficiently as I wanted. And one long call to a colleague turned into several calls, each dropped by poor connectivity across locations.
How do we improve? Based on this experience, we need to innovate the mobile network and how we think about coverage and capacity – densify networks outdoors and provide more indoor coverage and capacity where people need it.
Let small cells tackle densification
Densification is increasingly becoming a priority for operators and small cells are part of the answer. I am not alone in these thoughts. Rethink Research said recently: “Until now, densification has not been necessary outside a few select environments such as transport hubs, where DAS (distributed antenna system) would often do the job. Now, mobile operators are acknowledging that a layer of heterogeneous small cells, spanning licensed and unlicensed spectrum, including Wi-Fi and cellular, and interworking with the macro network, is critical to their business model.”
Densification will be a key trend as we head towards and beyond 5G. Cloud technologies applied to small cells can help operators extend coverage, while maximizing capacity at individual sites. That’s why Nokia has just virtualized its Flexi Zone small cells controller. Our stand-alone controller made a cluster of small cells behave operationally as one base station. The new Flexi Zone controller in the cloud takes this much further by enabling rapid, unlimited scaling of small cells. (see box below)
Adding more virtual controller instances in the cloud, let’s say one per tenant of a large office building, takes just minutes. Furthermore, combining Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) and Wi-Fi controller functions on the same server as the Flexi Zone controller, opens up new possibilities to reduce latency, create multi-connectivity and use small cells to provide more innovative services.
The point is, that the tools that will allow us to collaborate and ensure data follows us as we move around a city on business or for leisure are already available. Our future as a digital society depends on them and I, for one, am looking forward to more seamless, more productive days out, where ample coverage and capacity are available when I need it the most.
Find out more about how Nokia small cells are helping operators around the world to deliver cost-effective capacity and coverage, indoors and outdoors.
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