By J. Sharpe Smith —
Small cells have struggled to live up to the hype surrounding their deployment. At PCIA’s Wireless Infrastructure Show in April, the tower industry simultaneously recognized the importance of small cells to the future and the difficulty surrounding deployment.
Last year was marked by AT&T’s announcement that small cells would only be used as a surgical method to cure particular traffic congestion pain points. And subsequently backed off of its plan to deploy tens of thousands of small cells nationally. As the industry recovered from AT&T’s small cell pullback in 2015, Verizon Wireless picked up the mantle and Sprint promised 70,000 small cells to varying degrees of credulity. Verizon Wireless and ExteNet engineered perhaps the highest profile small cell deployment of the year with 400 nodes across San Francisco. Baltimore may be Verizon’s next large scale small cell deployment.
These are early days. Many different elements have to come together before a technology is successful. Not the least of which is a business model. Just recently, Philips and Ericsson teamed with municipalities in Los Angeles and San Jose to bring together all the elements that are key to small cells: zoning, business model and technology.
Major Small Cell Deployments in 2015: