Small cells in the big wide world


We have been supporting Virgin Media Business’s trials of a hosted managed small cell service. The trials have involved two small cell vendors: Alcatel-Lucent and Airspan, who worked with the Virgin team to trial LTE small cells mounted on lampposts in Newcastle and Bristol. The measurements included both indoor and outdoor locations.

Our role has been to provide independent analysis of the trial data and determine how it informs some of the key questions regarding small cells, including:

  • How well do small cells work? 
  • Where should they be placed?
  • How many are needed?

The results so far are very promising as indicated in Virgin Media’s press release. And the potential was brought to life in a compelling
 demonstration yesterday, including representatives from mobile operators and the city councils. The shoebox – sized small cell was mounted outdoors but provided impressive service to a host of devices indoors, providing seven (yes, 7) high-quality video streams, 4-way video conferencing and web browsing – simultaneously!

But there are plenty of open questions and challenges ahead, including the practical challenges of gaining access to the right street furniture and of providing suitable backhaul. A hosted, managed service (for which we have coined the term SCaaS – Small Cells as a Service) looks like a promising option to help with both of these.


Yesterday’s event was also well-attended by the press – here’s a selection of the resulting articles:


4 thoughts on “Small cells in the big wide world

  1. SCaaS is the way foreward.. The lines of interconnectivity between MNVO s and NWOs companies is a geographical battlefield…shaping itself…to how much of the data pipe you want to have . As a network operator DAS indoor building is therefore a must..Stadiums ,Airports etc..
    Anywhere there is the customer density…SCaaS rollout will also have to rollout next to these areas imagine the handovers..A Customer strolls out of a stadium..Indoor DAS handover to SCaaS…he walks down a high street to the Railway station SCaaS Handover to DAS Indoor/Outdoor..
    The train pulls in Indoor DAS to Train WiFi handover as he steps aboard..The train takes customer to a small suburban station..Train WiFi to Makro Cell Handover as he steps out of the train.He walks down the high street. Handover to local Scaas .!!! Etcc..

    Now..Where is the border for the Network operators?

    Where ever they can dominate..Network Operators should take note that they now have to install SCaaS…and…Link up with any Wired(Optic Infrastructured MVNO) Virgin with?

    Cheers everyone Cliff Sullivan 36Years Telecom !!

  2. okay…here we go!!.Simon..may I ask/inquire on your thoughts about applying Moores Law to Spectrum Capability?

    Cheers Cliff Sullivan (Out of The Box)!

    • Dan

      This was all real-world measurement! We also did some analysis to determine how the small cells would have performed in supporting macrocells in various LTE and 3G scenarios, but still using the underlying measurements as the starting point. We should be publishing more detail in the near future.


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