Small Cells as a Service – Trials Report

We have just published the report from our independent evaluation of the trials conducted by Virgin Media Business in support of their plans for what we have coined a “Small Cell as a Service” proposition, i.e. a hosted, managed service to help mobile operators to roll out small cells in cities more effectively.

As we reported recently, the trials were conducted in two UK cities to help inform operators as to the practical radio performance available from small cells. The small cells in the trial were LTE devices and we have examined the performance of these for both outdoor and indoor users. We have also analysed the data to infer  how small cells could supplement the service from macrocells and how they might perform in a 3G/HSPA context. A comparison was made of the indoor coverage available from a Wi-Fi access point and an LTE small cell mounted in the same location.

Findings include:

  • Outdoor range of as much as 290m for a 20 Mbps cell edge target
  • 60 Mbps measured indoors up to 250m from the access point
  • A consistently high indoor user experience in the trial area with all except 4 indoor measurements reaching above 20Mbps 
  • A potential doubling in outdoor median throughput was observed compared to simulated macrocells (for cell edge placement of small cell)
  • Small cell mean single user outdoor throughputs in the region of 58Mbps for a 20Mbps single user cell edge target 
  • Small cells deployed in busy areas could meet today’s mobile data demand requirements in the UK’s 80% most densely populated areas with a 15x capacity headroom for future growth or to serve the ‘hyper dense’ demand of the City of London’s busiest locations.
  • Small cells achieve consistently higher indoor performance over a wider area than outdoor Wi-Fi from a given location

As well as giving details of the trial data analysis, the report analyses the motivations of operators to deploy small cells and examines how a SCaaS approach could help to address some of the major challenges to widespread small cell deployment, including backhaul and practical site issues. The approach can also help to create a bridge the interests of operators and those of city councils, who both ultimately want to enhance the mobile broadband experience for the inhabitants and visitors of the city.

For further details see:



The executive summary of our report
The full text of our report


Contact us to discuss the report further.