Neil Barnes, Business Development Manager, Small Cells at Cellnex UK examines the costs and benefits, and asks ‘have Small Cells come of age?’
In dense urban areas, Small Cells offer an exciting opportunity to increase both capacity and coverage. We’re now seeing a growing body of evidence that shows they really can make an impact – particularly supporting 5G roll-out in cities across the UK. But are outdated perceptions creating barriers to adoption?
After some early false dawns, Small Cell adoption is growing in the UK. With costs falling there’s certainly a robust business case to be made, particularly in 5G areas, while early expectations of poor performance have happily been proved incorrect. Added to which, the assumed purpose of many Small Cell deployments – to offload traffic from macro sites – has changed and unexpected benefits are appearing. When in live deployment, we’re seeing Small Cells actually carry additional traffic, not just managing existing traffic from the macros. This ability to capture previously unmet demand from subscribers gives MNOs an opportunity to eliminate black spots and to significantly boost the customer experience.
As the Small Cell market evolves, so widescale deployments become easier, and a growing number of street assets are now available to deploy on. Cellnex UK alone has some 200,000+ across London and is expanding sites in large cities across the UK. With greater maturity and deployment expertise, the industry is able to learn from experience and work with all stakeholders to create a more ‘industrialised’ installation model – which further drives down TCO.
With macro deployments often taking months or years, the ability to deploy Small Cells in a matter of weeks is incredibly valuable. You can read more about the emerging value of Small Cells in our paper Small Cells Come of Age.