OnQ Blog

Love Thy “Neighborhood” Small Cells

Dec 11, 2012

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

Whether you love Thy neighbor or not, you will definitely love “Neighborhood small cells!” Why? Because they offer this cozy network of unplanned indoor small cells that not only provide abundant indoor data capacity, but also provide capacity and coverage for outdoor users in the “neighborhood.”

If you have been following our “1000x Mobile data challenge,” you will know that our vision to achieve this is the combination of more resources and radically new ways to acquire deploy and optimize them. Neighborhood Small Cells (NSCs) is one such example of a “radically new” approach of deploying networks. Traditionally, the deployment model has been to focus more on the outdoor macro cells and try to provide outdoor and indoor coverage, more of an outside-in approach. Well, that will still continue, but to address ever-growing indoor traffic, complementary “inside-out” models such as NSCs are needed.

Simply put, the concept of NSCs is a hyper-dense network of extremely low-cost, plug-and-play, open, indoor small cells. The network provides extremely high indoor capacity, along with good outdoor coverage and capacity in the immediate “neighborhood.”  Initial studies done at our San Diego based over-the-air NSC test network show that up to a 500x capacity increase is possible with a mere 9% penetration of households and up to a 1000x increase with a 20% penetration rate, when combined with 10x more spectrum. Studies also show that the performance is not sensitive to the penetration losses caused by walls or lower transmit power of small cells.

The benefits of NSCs are quite evident. Planning and deployment costs are minimal since NSCs are primarily deployed consumers. NSCs rely mainly on existing backhaul solutions, so no (or minimal) costs are associated with that either. Also, NSCs leverage self-optimizing network (SON) techniques, which eliminate any network optimization costs. What makes all this possible? Qualcomm’s UltraSONTM technology. UltraSON solves multiple challenges posed by such complex networks including, self-configuration, mobility and interference management among small cells and between them and external macro network, management of pitfalls of consumer-grade backhaul without any impact, maximization of outdoor coverage, and more.

To showcase the performance of NSC model, we are upgrading over-the-air small-cell test bed at our San Diego campus to be a hyper-dense NSC network. We plan to demonstrate its performance at the upcoming Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, scheduled for Feb 2013, much like our previous live demonstrations. So stay tuned to hear more about this and other activities. Meanwhile, visit www.qualcomm.com/hetnets to learn more and why you will love thy neighborhood small cell.

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