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Tag Archives: Tower and Small Cell Summit

Mansfield Pushes Carrier Uptake of Small Cells

It is important to drive the small cell equipment ecosystem in the direction of the carriers’ wants and needs, Gordon Mansfield, executive director of AT&T’s Small Cells and Radio Access Network Division, told the audience during his keynote address at the Tower and Small Cell Summit, February, in Las Vegas.

He also spoke of the Small Cell Forum, of which he is chairman, and its commitment to promoting small cell deployment through education, noting that there may be more upside to small cell deployment than carriers realize. Shrinking cells not only boosts capacity, but cellular densification unleashes new applications in the marketplace, Mansfield said.

“If you think about having great coverage, great penetration, but then having those small nodes that give you greater ability to do triangulation and location-type functionality, it starts to open the door for new applications,” he said.

Mansfield noted that a Universal Mobile Telecommunications System study showed that if four small cells are placed within a macro cell, traffic offload can be increased by 56 percent, but median throughput can be increased by 315 percent. In effect, the performance of the macrocell is improved by the inclusion of small cells.

“Most people think that that’s all about the small cell,” he said. “What you actually see … is that by taking some of that traffic and offloading it onto the small cells, you actually are improving the performance of the macro as well.”

Nine out of 10 operator groups are deploying small cells. While today that consists mostly of femtocells, the types of deployments are diversifying, Mansfield said.

“There is not an operator that I talked to anywhere around the world that doesn’t have some view that small cells are necessary for the future of their networks,” he said. “Now, we’re getting beyond the focus on residential and enterprise and we are starting to look at a greater emphasis, greater focus on in-building enterprise in public areas.”

Although 98 percent of operators say small cells are important, Mansfield conceded that only 50 companies are deploying the technology to date. The Small Cell Forum has set a goal to increase the number of carriers deploying small cells.

The group created the Small Cell Forum Release Program to educate the operator community on the full range of questions about how, why and what to deploy in terms of small cells. To create the program, the forum collected information in the early stages of femtocell and small cell deployment in order to provide carriers with information on real-world examples of small cell deployment, including residential, enterprise, metro and rural case studies.

“From a Small Cell Forum perspective, we really consider the Release Program as a how-to guide to accelerate commercial deployments of small cells,” he said. “From an operator perspective, it is an all-you-need-to-know guide.”

From the vendor perspective, the Release Program provides a resource of data to understand what’s been done, what’s worked and what hasn’t.

“To make sure they are developing the right products, they’re basing it on mobile operator requirements and successful roll out experience,” Mansfield said. “We start by simulating the investment, getting the operator requirements, building and gathering the ecosystem.

Release One, which was published at this year’s Mobile World Congress, included the femtocell market. The next release will include the enterprise space, followed by public access and metro. Each Release includes reports, technical papers, videos and conference PowerPoint presentations.

Release One features case studies on AT&T’s 3G femtocell deployments, which provide a simple, out-of-the-box indoor coverage solution for users.

“When you think about these volumes, you have to make it simple,” Mansfield said. “The common user has to be able to plug that in and it has to work. You’ve got to be able to integrate. Integrating with key carrier building systems, etc. and regulatory systems is important. And you can’t have interference.”

Mansfield said that providers of small cells may be able to take the strategies deployed in the femtocell space and transfer them to other use cases.

“If we think about the capabilities that have been demonstrated and millions of use cases across the U.S. and elsewhere, it’s not uncommon for us to be able to apply some of those capabilities and get simpler ways to install small cells in a public way as well,” he said.

Mansfield discussed AT&T’s announcement to move beyond the residential space with the deployment of 40,000 public access small cells as part of the Velocity IP program during the next three years.

“No one should think that we’re thinking about going and replacing our macro network with small cells,” he said. “That’s not practical, but going in and enhancing that macro coverage in a targeted way is very practical: some indoor, some outdoor. Think about on utility poles. Think about in buildings, on buildings, etc.”

The ability for small cells to coexist with existing macro cells, compatibility between different vendors and ability to manage interference are all interrelated, Mansfield said. To facilitate this integration, the Small Cell Forum has developed operator requirements focused on the public access space.

“I don’t think anybody believes that in the small cells phase that we can do that without self-optimizing networks,” he said. “I really start to bring all of those pieces together and I say, 90 percent of what operators are saying is that it’s got to work together.”

 

Mansfield Pushes Carrier Uptake of Small Cells

It is important to drive the small cell equipment ecosystem in the direction of the carriers’ wants and needs, Gordon Mansfield, executive director of AT&T’s Small Cells and Radio Access Network Division, told the audience during his keynote address at the Tower and Small Cell Summit, February, in Las Vegas.

He also spoke of the Small Cell Forum, of which he is chairman, and its commitment to promoting small cell deployment through education, noting that there may be more upside to small cell deployment than carriers realize. Shrinking cells not only boosts capacity, but cellular densification unleashes new applications in the marketplace, Mansfield said.

“If you think about having great coverage, great penetration, but then having those small nodes that give you greater ability to do triangulation and location-type functionality, it starts to open the door for new applications,” he said.

Mansfield noted that a Universal Mobile Telecommunications System study showed that if four small cells are placed within a macro cell, traffic offload can be increased by 56 percent, but median throughput can be increased by 315 percent. In effect, the performance of the macrocell is improved by the inclusion of small cells.

“Most people think that that’s all about the small cell,” he said. “What you actually see … is that by taking some of that traffic and offloading it onto the small cells, you actually are improving the performance of the macro as well.”

Nine out of 10 operator groups are deploying small cells. While today that consists mostly of femtocells, the types of deployments are diversifying, Mansfield said.

“There is not an operator that I talked to anywhere around the world that doesn’t have some view that small cells are necessary for the future of their networks,” he said. “Now, we’re getting beyond the focus on residential and enterprise and we are starting to look at a greater emphasis, greater focus on in-building enterprise in public areas.”

Although 98 percent of operators say small cells are important, Mansfield conceded that only 50 companies are deploying the technology to date. The Small Cell Forum has set a goal to increase the number of carriers deploying small cells.

The group created the Small Cell Forum Release Program to educate the operator community on the full range of questions about how, why and what to deploy in terms of small cells. To create the program, the forum collected information in the early stages of femtocell and small cell deployment in order to provide carriers with information on real-world examples of small cell deployment, including residential, enterprise, metro and rural case studies.

“From a Small Cell Forum perspective, we really consider the Release Program as a how-to guide to accelerate commercial deployments of small cells,” he said. “From an operator perspective, it is an all-you-need-to-know guide.”

From the vendor perspective, the Release Program provides a resource of data to understand what’s been done, what’s worked and what hasn’t.

“To make sure they are developing the right products, they’re basing it on mobile operator requirements and successful roll out experience,” Mansfield said. “We start by simulating the investment, getting the operator requirements, building and gathering the ecosystem.

Release One, which was published at this year’s Mobile World Congress, included the femtocell market. The next release will include the enterprise space, followed by public access and metro. Each Release includes reports, technical papers, videos and conference PowerPoint presentations.

Release One features case studies on AT&T’s 3G femtocell deployments, which provide a simple, out-of-the-box indoor coverage solution for users.

“When you think about these volumes, you have to make it simple,” Mansfield said. “The common user has to be able to plug that in and it has to work. You’ve got to be able to integrate. Integrating with key carrier building systems, etc. and regulatory systems is important. And you can’t have interference.”

Mansfield said that providers of small cells may be able to take the strategies deployed in the femtocell space and transfer them to other use cases.

“If we think about the capabilities that have been demonstrated and millions of use cases across the U.S. and elsewhere, it’s not uncommon for us to be able to apply some of those capabilities and get simpler ways to install small cells in a public way as well,” he said.

Mansfield discussed AT&T’s announcement to move beyond the residential space with the deployment of 40,000 public access small cells as part of the Velocity IP program during the next three years.

“No one should think that we’re thinking about going and replacing our macro network with small cells,” he said. “That’s not practical, but going in and enhancing that macro coverage in a targeted way is very practical: some indoor, some outdoor. Think about on utility poles. Think about in buildings, on buildings, etc.”

The ability for small cells to coexist with existing macro cells, compatibility between different vendors and ability to manage interference are all interrelated, Mansfield said. To facilitate this integration, the Small Cell Forum has developed operator requirements focused on the public access space.

“I don’t think anybody believes that in the small cells phase that we can do that without self-optimizing networks,” he said. “I really start to bring all of those pieces together and I say, 90 percent of what operators are saying is that it’s got to work together.”

 

Shot Clock Needs ‘More Teeth’ — FCC Comm. Pai

Municipalities may see stricter cell tower application rules as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in City of Arlington, Texas, et al. v. Federal Communications Commission et. al. ruling, which affirmed the antenna siting shot clock, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai told Kevin Martin, Patton Boggs, in an onstage interview before an audience at the Tower and Small Cell Summit last month in Las Vegas.

“The decision does give us a little more leeway to apply those rules to make sure that they have a lot of teeth,” he said. “One of the things I have proposed … was for the FCC to adopt the back stop to those rules such that if a locality didn’t act on an application within 90 days or 150 days, whichever is relevant, that application would be deemed granted.”

Pai acknowledged that the process of deploying wireless infrastructure still runs into obstacles when filing applications on the state and local level, even with the current 90-day collocation, 150-day new tower shot clock.

“A lot of states and localities have adopted moratoria or otherwise ignore the shot clock in trying to process these applications,” he said. “What the Supreme Court’s decision portends for the FCC, in the long term, is just the streamlined application of the shot clock to a lot of wireless infrastructure, which is essential in this day and age.”

Regulation of applications for wireless systems still needs fine tuning to speed the roll out of broadband, Pai said.

“It becomes incumbent upon the FCC to really study this issue and make sure that states and localities as well as the federal government are standing out of the way, doing what they need to do to keep the public safe, of course, but otherwise standing out the way and letting people deploy this central infrastructure especially in dense urban environments,” he said.

The FCC should issue a Notice of Proposed Rule Making to clarify that an application has to be acted on within 90 days or 150 days, Pai said.

“Theoretically, I guess we could issue a decision sooner rather than later but given the fact that a lot of time has passed I think it would be nice to make sure all the current commissioners have input, get public input, and get everyone on the same page,” he said.

The ruling also has implications for the commission in terms of on how it approaches its general authority and jurisdiction, as well as towers.

“[The Supreme Court ruling] really is a fundamental decision for the wireless industry and for the FCC,” Pai said. “The court ruled that the FCC did deserve deference from the judicial branch when it was deciding the scope of its authority. And that’s a fundamentally important principal for the FCC written large across the administrative law landscape.”

U.S. Must Add Extensive Fiber Backhaul to Reach ’Real LTE’

The United States is behind in terms of fiber-optic penetration for backhaul, which must be resolved before nationwide LTE networks will become a reality, Hunter Newby, Allied Fiber, told an audience at the Tower and Small Cell Summit in Las Vegas, late in May.

“We have a problem as a country. There’s a huge, gaping hole in the U.S. [fiber-optic] infrastructure,” Newby said during the Opportunities in Backhaul session. “Of all the antenna sites in existence, more than 300,000, I believe we have fiber penetration to about 30 percent, and that might be charitable.”

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ranks the United States well behind other countries in terms of fiber penetration, Newby said.

Newby noted a March 12 Vertical Systems Group report that showed business access to fiber in the United States has grown from 10.9 percent to 36.1 percent since 2004, leaving 63.9 percent unserved.

“The report said the fiber gap is closing, which I found rather fantastic,” Newby said. “That means in eight years, we have increased only 26 percent. At that pace, in 16 years, we will be … on the same level that Singapore, South Korea and Japan are on today. That is not so good. Not so good.”

Fiber and microwave are complementary, and microwave will always exist at the edge of the fiber ring, Newby conceded. While a one-hop microwave hookup will provide LTE speeds under certain circumstances, fiber is critical for LTE to work for a given density of users, he said.

“How can we have even a single nationwide 4G LTE, if LTE doesn’t work effectively without fiber to the tower and there is only fiber to 30 percent of the antenna sites?” Newby asked. “Well, we can’t. The reality is we don’t. We need to get real about what is actually out there in terms of infrastructure.”

The root of the problem, according to Newby, is the unwillingness of investors to put their money in fiber-optic infrastructure.

“Everybody wants a 12-month return on investment on a fiber-to-the-tower build,” he said. “The most that anyone is going to fund is five miles. A mile [fiber build out] is a chip shot, but for an ROI outside of 12 months no one is investing.”

Allied Fiber is working to address the lack of accessible dark fiber in the market by making carrier-neutral dark fiber available for cell tower backhaul and other needs. In 2008, it embarked on a five-phase plan to build a fiber loop around the perimeter of the nation. Last year, it built a 150-mile route in Georgia that was driven by an operator that wanted Ethernet services to 250 towers. The firm is now building from Miami to Atlanta, as well as completing the Phase One route from New York City to Chicago.

Meanwhile, AT&T is achieving more progress in its fiber backhaul rollout than expected, according to an investor note by Wells Fargo Senior Analyst Jennifer Fritzsche. The carrier says it has fiber to more than 75 percent of its 58,000 cell sites.

“While AT&T has been public about the fact that 90 percent plus of its data traffic is on enhanced backhaul (primarily fiber), this was the first time we heard it quantify the specific percentage of fiber-drawn sites,” she wrote. “We note this percentage significantly exceeds that of the smaller two national players (despite marketing and promotions suggesting the opposite).”

Fritzsche also reports that Zayo Group, a global dark fiber provider, is experiencing increased demand for fiber-to-the-tower to meet data demand.  

Zayo has experience beefing up fiber-to-the-tower in advance of major sporting events. For example, The company installed a dark fiber ring to improve wireless capacity and reliability during last month’s events in Indianapolis 500.  Zayo’s services supported wireless traffic backhaul from a DAS deployment at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, enabling a 23-mile fiber ring connecting a national carrier’s multiple points of presence and the speedway. 

Zayo Group also provided a metro dark-fiber network in and around Indianapolis for ExteNet Systems to use in its distributed telecommunications networks for this year’s Super Bowl.  

 Zayo now manages more than 540 fiber route miles in the Indianapolis metro area and supports service to more than 300 buildings on-net.