Heterogeneous networks deployment needs the new 4Ps
The 4Ps – Product, Place, Price and Promotion – are widely used as a marketing baseline. When it comes to planning heterogeneous networks, it would be great to see Petabytes, Placement, Power and Plant gain similar industry mindshare.
Heterogeneous networks use a mix of large and small radio cells to provide optimal coverage and performance. They bring a lot of benefits, but also a few challenges. That’s where the new 4 Ps come in.
With PETABYTES, it’s all about understanding the traffic patterns. The expected evolution over time, and the price/performance considerations between available access technologies, are all factors to consider. This becomes increasingly delicate as device and service types grow exponentially. In addition, there is a lack of correlation between traffic volumes and revenues in the future.
The physical PLACEMENT of a cell is critical. A small cell has one optimal location from a performance perspective, and the shorter radio reach limits the ability to deviate from that optimal location. Indoor and outdoor placements impose different constraints on the deployment of small cells.
The POWER challenge is twofold, involving both primary and secondary (back-up) power. There are different options for a primary power source, AC or DC. If there is no existing power supply, one has to be designed and deployed. Back-up power could be more complex, with restrictions, for example, on how and where batteries can be placed.
The existing PLANT – such as fiber, copper and coax wires – determines the backhaul options. The simplest scenario is to reuse the existing wiring. A radio scenario is attractive when no wiring exists and can’t be installed easily. Extending fiber, and power, to optimal cell locations can make business sense for specific applications.
I predict that we will see four trends emerge as heterogeneous networks become more popular:
- Deployment strategies will be built on a clear view of the Petabytes, Placement, Power and Plant scenario for each specific site and situation
- Many operators will want to get their cells into the same optimal locations, and may have to share cells in order to avoid inferior placements
- Property owners are interested in preparing their buildings with power and backhaul wiring suitable for optimal small-cell deployment locations, to make them attractive for potential tenants
- There will be many urban deployment use cases developed, with very different traffic scenarios during the time of the year (temporary needs) and day (permanent needs)