Broadband wireless networks (LTE, WiFi) offer high speed mobile networking supporting various multimedia services, e.g., video and music streaming, online interactive gaming, photo uploads, etc. It is expected that demand for mobile data will increase 1000 fold within the next 10 years, thus, challenging current wireless infrastructure networks. More spectrum, better spectral efficiency and spatial reuse are possible candidates to increase the networks capacity. Small cells and advanced antenna/MIMO techniques are very attractive because they can increase the capacity density for a given amount of spectrum. Reusing the scarce wireless spectrum over small areas using small-cells is a promising approach to alleviate the capacity crunch. Small-cells will integrate both LTE and WiFi technologies taking advantage of licensed and unlicensed spectrum.
WiFi has become the connection of choice for many users, as most smartphone, tablets and notebooks are equipped with WiFi. It is also expected that most IP traffic will be carried over WiFi, therefore, WiFi access points and network management software are increasingly important to carriers. The addition of over 600 MHz of unlicensed spectrum in the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands has the potential to increase significantly the capacity. From that reason, many operators have embraced WiFi as another radio access technology that eventually will be integrated to the operator core network as part the service offering. In the near future moving between WiFi and LTE networks will be seamless thanks to the tight integration of the two technologies in the core networks.
The huge success of WiFi in enterprise and vertical markets will help adoption of the technology in the carrier market. Although mature, WiFi is still evolving and new developments like 802.11ac and Hotspot 2.0 will make the technology transparent to the user with automatic/seamless network discovery and authentication similar to the user experience in cellular networks.
One of the main challenges facing small-cells is the backhaul. Integrated LTE/WiFi small-cells require backhaul in the Gbps range and availability of fiber links is limited, i.e., not every lamp post, utility pole or building has access to fiber. Therefore, high capacity wireless backhaul will be needed for outdoors applications as well as for indoors to eliminate costly cabling.
Mobius consulting wireless experts can help design end-to-end heterogeneous networks (HetNet) composed of WiFi AP's, LTE small-cells, DAS and backhaul across multiple layers, leveraging extensive experience with service providers and equipment vendors. Our wireless knowledge and innovative network design approach will ensure successful deployment and good user experience.