LTE Femtocell Roadmap from Concept to Reality

CCPU – The LTE femtocell stands to serve as a key weapon in the mobile operator arsenal.

CCPU – The LTE femtocell stands to serve as a key weapon in the mobile operator arsenal.

The market is buzzing about the critical role of “small cells” in Long Term Evolution (LTE) deployments – femtocells, picocells and microcells. LTE is the next generation 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standard for mobile networks born out of the GSM family of cellular technology. LTE enjoys unprecedented support from the global operator community with the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) reporting 39 operator commitments to LTE network deployment throughout 19 countries. LTE networks promise a true mobile broadband experience with peak data rates of over 100 Mbps, high-speed mobility and reduced latency supporting a variety of real-time applications.

The concept of LTE small cells is undeniably sound. Orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA), the basis of LTE mobile networks, is a shared channel radio technology and, by definition, the fewer users in a cell the more bandwidth each user is allocated. Furthermore, the user device (i.e., mobile phone, dongle, data card, etc.) has a smaller cell radius and is closer to the radio which limits signal degradation and increases throughput. However, once one gets past these foundational benefits the details become murky. The fact remains that early LTE trials and deployments, including any form of LTE femtocell, are not yet underway. This article identifies the key business and technology actions and evaluates progress required to take the LTE femtocell from concept to doorstep.

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