There are basically three routes to adding capacity in wireless networks: buy more spectrum, improve spectral efficiency and increase the number of cells and/or sectors. By far the most commonly utilized route is increasing the number of cells and sectors. Licensed wireless spectrum is expensive and in limited supply, often times making that option prohibitive. Methods for improving spectral efficiency are helpful, but the real growth in capacity comes from densifying the network with more cells and sectors.
There are five key strategies to consider when boosting cell density and capacity. I will be speaking about them at the OSP EXPO 2013 in Dallas, Texas on October 9 from 8:00-9:00 a.m. My presentation is aptly titled "Practical Solutions for Boosting RAN Cell Density and Capacity." The five key strategies are network modernization (basically, deploying LTE), capacity solutions, distributed coverage and capacity, backhaul and metro cells. These are all routes to adding capacity but each includes certain challenges and complexity that must be overcome.
I think the best investment a wireless operator can make today is to convert their heaviest traffic loaded sites into six sectors instead of the traditional three sectors. Going to six sectors provides almost twice the capacity, increases the gain of each sector by 3 dB for better building penetration and mitigates interference for higher data throughput. Twin beam and other multi-beam antennas make this conversion possible by removing the need for adding more antennas to the tower, which would add leasing cost and tower load. A twin beam antenna will add immediate capacity by enabling a sector split.
I will talk more about sector splitting and other practical considerations for densifying a wireless network at OSP EXPO. I will include information about the latest evolution of antenna technology that allows operators to more finely sculpt their sectors, decreasing interference between the sectors. Will you be at OSP EXPO? Are there any questions you would like answered regarding maximizing capacity at the cell site?