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Small cell siting policies must be addressed

The associations emphasise that altering regulatory policies at the national, state and city level is necessary to reduce time and cost of deploying small cells at scale

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More cells will be needed for 5G, with a greater diversity of equipment form factors and site types
More cells will be needed for 5G, with a greater diversity of equipment form factors and site types

5G Americas and the Small Cell Forum believe that if the challenges of siting for outdoor cells are not addressed in a timely manner, many of the benefits which governments, regulators and cities hope to derive from 5G – such as smart city platforms and the Industrial IoT – will be severely compromised.

 

The two associations emphasise that altering regulatory policies at the national, state and city level is imperative to reduce the time and cost of deploying small cells at scale. They have launched the Small Cell Siting Challenges and Recommendations, a detailed whitepaper to support operators and government decision-makers in the efficient deployment of small cells.

 

The report provides a clear set of guidelines, designed to help cities, regulators and other stakeholders, to adopt a common, streamlined approach that will maximise the benefits of densification for their citizens.

 

Targeted capacity small cells

 

For mobile network operators, filling coverage gaps was the initial priority in deployment of small cells, but now operators are deploying a layer of targeted capacity small cells to steadily deliver best-in-class performance and quality of service even in areas of the heaviest usage.

 

Densification involves large numbers of cells, even for LTE, and the numbers will increase in 5G because of its increased capacity requirements, higher spectrum bands and support for new services such as smart city applications.

“Local municipalities, citizens and operators should be partners, not adversaries, in delivering the future of 5G connectivity in towns and cities across the US”

One of the biggest changes that operators will make as they move from 4G to 5G will be scale. Far more cells will be required for 5G, with a greater diversity of equipment form factors and site types.

 

By 2020, the average densification project will involve 100-350 cells per square kilometre and these will be mounted on many types of infrastructure and integrated into street furniture and even vehicles.

 

The white paper presents results from a Rethink Technology Research survey of operators that shows barriers to densification exist with site, backhaul and approvals issues possibly causing operators to postpone the start of a densification project by an average of two years and two months. It explains in why densification is becoming urgent, its benefits and what barriers remain.

 

“Local municipalities, citizens and operators should be partners, not adversaries, in delivering the future of 5G connectivity in towns and cities across the US,” said Chris Pearson, president of 5G Americas.

 

He added: “These partnerships can cooperatively streamline processes to deliver the best quality, coverage and security through densification of networks. Small Cells could be deployed in weeks, not months.”

 

Heterogeneous networks

 

SCF and 5G Americas have created the report to explicitly support and simplify the planning and regulatory issues associated with the dense heterogeneous network (HetNet) deployments that will be typical in our 5G mobile future, and in which small cells will be a significant component.

 

Experts from the forums and their member organisations have been cooperating globally to author the document, and it is the goal of both organisations to help eliminate potential roadblocks and mitigate challenges that may slow the process of network densification.

 

The paper outlines best practices and aesthetic guidelines for classes of equipment in small form factors such as street furniture that will contribute to a future mobile network design.

 

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