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5G Small Cell Technology

(Washington D.C., U.S.A.)

- Small Cells, Big Changes

As we are approaching 5G standard for wireless communication, the traditional network infrastructure has lot of limitation. It's no secret that a 5G network will be the standard for Internet connectivity. 5G technology has to address many challenges in terms of data speed, reliability and latency specifications. In order to provide higher bandwidth signal and extend coverage for more users, Small cells will be the foundation of future nationwide 5G networks. Small Cells are far from a new phenomenon, having begun deployments with 3G, and ramped significantly with 4G, they are now poised for a significant growth with 5G.

5G uses the millimeter wave (mmWave) portion of the spectrum, between 30 Gigahertz and 300 GHz. The signal covers distances much faster than 4G and has greater capacity. But it covers smaller areas and doesn’t move as well through solid objects. So, instead of relying on a central 4G cell tower, wireless carriers will have to install a higher density of smaller, portable towers to carry 5G signals. Today’s average 4G tower can support about 2,000 connections at one time, With 5G, you could support more than a million connections per square kilometer. In addition to greater bandwidth, the new 5G networks will have a dense, distributed network of base stations in the small cell infrastructure. This will allow more processing to happen on the edge, leading to lower latencies.

The absorption of high-frequency 5G signals will require the transmission beam to be electronically “steered” in order to minimize losses and optimize the transmission efficiency of the system. And due to the short range of the millimeter-wave signals, multiple repeaters will be needed, driving up the chip count for 5G deployments.


[Regular cells (L) and small cells (R) - The Fiber Optic Association (FOA)]

- Small Cell Infrastructure

“Small cells” is an overarching term for low-powered radio access nodes that help provide service to both indoor and outdoor areas. Small cells can be attached to existing utility poles, light poles, traffic lights, or outdoor building walls. And indoors, small cells can be installed above ceiling tiles or attached to drop-ceiling mounts. These nodes can work in either licensed or unlicensed spectrum, and have a range between 10 meters and two kilometers. The purpose of installing small cells is to increase range and capacity in densely populated urban areas that cannot be sustained by macrocells. 

Small cell infrastructure could remake landscapes. To reduce costs for 5G operators, 5G allows for smaller transmitters that consume lower power, but that cover much smaller service areas than typical 4G towers. A carrier will need more of them - by one estimate, four hundred times more towers than are currently deployed, though conceivably better integrated with the landscape. The expectation is that a 5G small cell could become as common a feature in urban areas as lampposts and graffiti.


- Small Cell Facilities for 5G

Small Cell Facilities, also called "5G", are a type of wireless infrastructure. Small cells are about the size of a pizza box and can be attached to utility or light poles or to other structures. To meet increasing demand for mobile, enhance 4G coverage, as well as lay the ground work for future wireless 5G technology, wireless service and infrastructure providers need to supplement traditional, larger cell phone towers with small cell facilities to densify their wireless networks.

Small cells use much lower power and cover much smaller areas. Generally small cells will subdivide large cell areas to provide more local service.



[More to come ...]

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