Small Cells – Enabling Connectivity Everywhere
Have you ever had four bars on your phone, but still couldn’t load a website, or send a photo? Well, you’re not alone. With more and more people using smartphones, carriers have found that capacity needs to be increased to handle all the data being used. Cell towers provide a network signal across a wide area but are only able to handle a finite amount of data. That’s where small cells come into play.
A Brief Explanation
Small cells are wireless receivers and transmitters that provide additional capacity to wireless networks. Connected by fiber optic cable capable of handling significant amounts of data at high speeds, small cell networks wirelessly communicate with carrier phone systems or the internet. Because they provide coverage to a smaller geographic area, they are closer to the devices using their networks, increasing speed and boosting performance and connectivity. Small cells are particularly useful in small areas where a large number of devices are competing for bandwidth, such as on college campuses, entertainment districts, stadiums, and within densely populated cities where they can be installed every few blocks.
Additional Wireless Density
Cell towers have a limited density. As people use more data, network connections become slower and there are more issues with connectivity. Small cells provide the ability to add more density to the wireless networks, strengthening coverage and enabling more data to flow through them. According to communication infrastructure provider Crown Castle, one small cell can send and receive the same amount of data as a single tower.
A Practical Solution
Small cells can be installed both indoors and outdoors, providing a practical solution with some aesthetic benefits as well. These small, energy efficient devices can be installed in a couple of hours. They don’t require the large footprint that traditional cell phone towers require and they blend in with existing infrastructures. The size of a small box, small cells can be inconspicuously installed on existing municipal infrastructures such as utility poles, light posts, and buildings, thereby making installation more cost-effective.
Benefits for Consumers
Utilizing shared infrastructure, small cells provide coverage to multiple carriers, allowing seamless access for customers who will always have an antenna nearby, boosting data capacity and network connectivity. When users don’t experience dropped calls or a lag when loading data on their smartphones, client satisfaction increases. Battery life for phones has been a hot topic in recent years and small cell technology has demonstrated the ability to reduce power draw and extend phone battery charges.
Implications for the Future
As cities implement smart technologies to manage traffic, utilities, and other municipal services such as transportation, small cell networks will be an integral part of the infrastructure required to handle the data and enable connectivity. Small cell networks are also an important component of the rollout of new connectivity technology such as 5G and Internet of Things (IoT).
As our world grows more and more connected, small cell technology helps wireless carriers boost performance and meet the ever-increasing demands for data. An essential component for the future of high-speed mobile broadband, small cells are here to stay.