A recent survey of top wireless and wireline operators in North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region points out some interesting challenges facing firms deploying and managing small cells.
While 70 percent of mobile network operators (MNO) and multi-system operators (MSO) project significant small cell buildouts by 2018, many expect challenges in project management (65 percent), negotiation with partners (45 percent) and technical aspects (40 percent), according to a January 2014 survey prepared by Real Wireless, a consultant firm, for tech giant Amdocs.
Because few real commercial small cell models exist, negotiating the metrics of small cells is largely sailing into uncharted waters. Models do exist from other wireless platforms, but few have the partnership issues that are prominent with small cells. For example, 70 percent of MNOs polled said they were prepared to use small cells rolled out by or owned by a third-part such as an MSO.
The majority of MSOs and MNOs (85 percent) believe that automation will be critical or important for small cell deployment to be successful, but 55 percent of them say they still need to upgrade their automation tools.
In an edge-of-the-envelope small cell deployment, Cloudpath Networks has empowered North Dakota State University to enroll, automatically, campus users in a secure certificate-based Wi-Fi network that covers 89 buildings and has a user base of more than 20,000 individuals. The university reported that students have an average of two or three devices each and at least 3,000 new and unique devices have been added, each year, since 2008. NDSU recently deployed Cloudpath’s XpressConnect Enrollment System to establish policy-related access rather than passwords, and new management capabilities for the network making it a roaming-capable Wi-Fi network.
— Ernest Worthman, AGL Small Cell Magazine