By Ernest Worthman, While 5G is getting a lot of rumblings, the reality is quite different and that weighs heavily on the positions of carriers on small cells. The 5G camp is saying that 5G will do everything, with nothing, transparently. So why follow the small cell roadmap?
The reality is that 5G is a long way off, 2020 by some estimates. The media hype says it is the panacea for all carrier and mobile operator ills. Well, some claims are that 5G will provide a 1000-fold capacity increase and support 100 billion devices! Wow…really Huawei?
That is a boisterous claim for a technology that isn’t sure where it is going to play in the worldwide spectrum bucket yet. In reality, most of it hasn’t even been defined yet. And, there remains doubt about, what level of coordination between cells would be required, and whether the benefits are primarily outdoor or indoor applications.
That being said, with or without 5G, small cells are here to stay. In fact, 5G will have a difficult time upstaging small cells. Simply put, no matter how 5G emerges, it will likely be nothing more than the next iteration of packing more devices into existing networks. There has been some discussion (by Broadcom) that it will include 802.11ac but that is a different set of standards (with very different speed and propagation metrics).
By Ernest Worthman, editor, Small Cells magazine