The offering of new technologies for small cells is taking off. New developments in microchip technologies, such as the Vitesse VSC7416 Serval Lite chip are taking small cell devices to the next level. Similar offerings are available from companies like Texas Instruments and Freescale as well.
The latest Vitesse device is a six-port Ethernet switch, optimized for low power and compact form factor. It integrates IEEE 1588v2 synchronization onboard, providing both frequency and phase timing to the 50 ppb and 0.5 microsecond tolerance required to coordinate the most efficient use of LTE HetNets and achieve the highest speeds offered through LTE-Advanced Multi-carrier feature.
Specifications are beginning to be tightened for power levels, and specific technologies are being introduced to enhance small cell performance. For example, Avago Technologies recently announced two new RF power amplifiers (PAs), the MGA-43728 and MGA-43828, and a new Wi-Fi FBAR filter, the ACFF-1024, designed specifically for small cell base transceiver station (BTS) applications.
Expanding upon the MGA-43×28 PA power amplifier family, the MGA-43728 and MGA-43828 are, respectively, new UMTS/LTE Band 7 and Band 8 power amplifiers featuring high linearity, gain and power-added efficiency with integrated power detector and shutdown function. The ACFF-1024 is a new miniature band-pass filter optimized for use in the 2.4 GHz ISM band. Designed with Avago’s innovative FBAR technology, the ACFF-1024 enables concurrent operation of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth applications that coexist with other wireless standards such as PCS and LTE Bands 7, 38, and 40 without suffering from performance degradation.
Small cells will enable the 4G car. In 2014 expect to see LTE move into the vehicle. Operators spent the last few years building LTE coverage, but with their initial 4G rollouts complete or near completion they’re now starting to focus on capacity. In 2014, they’ll start using a different tool: the small cell.
Of the major U.S. operators, AT&T is being the most aggressive, they have been promising, for quite some time now, that they will roll out 40,000-small cell network before the end of 2015. Sprint is also planning to make extensive use of the tiny base stations in its network. Verizon has been experimenting with small cells as well, though it’s much less enthusiastic about the technology. These small cells will play a crucial part in the Wi-Fi-enabled car.
Expect the rollout to start in 2014, but don’t expect any real progress for a year or two.