Panelists in a 5G and LTE session agreed mobile operators should start deploying small cells to gain valuable experience and establish a footprint to prepare for 5G, which will rely more on small cells to boost capacity.
Randy Cox, Nokia’s head of product management for small cells (pictured, second from left), said everyone knows 5G will require massive use of small cells and if operators want to learn and make a step forward in small cells, they have the perfect opportunity to do so today with 4G.
“There are multiple benefits because you’re learning to deploy small cells. It’s a challenge, but the benefits by far outweigh the challenges. It’s learning you can undertake now and use in the future with 5G,” Cox explained.
In addition, he advised operators to start building a footprint with 4G: “You want to gain that real estate as fast as possible. If you start with 4G, you will most likely have that for 5G.”
Ildefonso de la Cruz, global business development manger at Samsung (pictured, second from right), agreed, noting reliable and robust connectively from macro and small cell deployments on LTE networks is crucial to a smooth transition to 5G.
“This is paving the way to 5G enhancements. The flexibility that small cells bring to the table will give end customers the quality of service they will eventually get once 5G standards are actually approved,” he said.
De la Cruz noted Samsung is continuing to work on making it easier to deploy small cells.
“We’ve listened to operators about how difficult it’s been to deploy because of bureaucratic restrictions. We make sure our outdoor solutions are compact and offer different mounting options to meet the restrictions of various locations.”
This helps speed up deployments, he said. Looking beyond the technical aspects of deployments, he explained Samsung also is taking steps to promote the non-traditional use of small cells in industry verticals.
Nokia’s Cox acknowledged there are a number of roadblocks, but said operators need to be creative in how they deploy small cells, which he is seeing in China. His second recommendation is to take a pragmatic approach about the many local regulations and work with municipalities to enable massive deployment.
“The relationship with the municipalities is critical, and it takes a big commitment from the operator to make that happen.”