In my previous post, I wrote about how content providers, media companies, and device manufacturers will likely exert more influence in how next generation wireless networks are designed. Wireless network architecture will increasingly be determined by the content being carried and how users are accessing it. I am basing this forecast on trends in the industry today. Here are some more of my predictions about future networks, specifically how the greater influence of content providers and device manufacturers will likely impact products and technological design. 

  1. Cable set-top boxes: They will have built in base stations for all possible RF data paths (licensed and unlicensed). They will support data aggregation across all licensed and unlicensed bands.

  2. Base stations with distributed antennas and smart beamforming: Unlike the traditional Wi-Fi routers of today, smart antenna technology (user-directed beam forming and distributed antennas) will be needed in the home routers/femtos, and outdoor base stations to optimize data throughput to users.

  3. Data caching: Local data caching and intelligence at the network edge will be required to optimize data throughput. This may mean that cable set-top boxes may be used as local distributed servers for content.

  4. Data aggregation across carriers: A single wireless carrier will not have the spectrum to address the massive data needs. Therefore technology will emerge to aggregate data across multiple carriers to use all available spectrum. One way this can happen, for example, is that Google or Cablevision may have agreements with multiple carriers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile) to license their spectrums. The home set-top boxes and the mobiles will be capable of transferring this capacity to the end user seamlessly.

  5. MVNOs: Content providers will become the next mobile virtual network operators. Think Amazon Kindle, where your data service is provided by Amazon and not through the operator.

  6. Security: Data will be distributed and aggregated across multiple RF paths. This will require new technology for security and billing.

  7. Outdoor backhaul with data aggregation over line-of-sight (LoS) and non-line of sight (nLoS) wireless links: Technology will emerge as described above to aggregate data and provide the connectivity required from the base station to the mobile device for indoor applications. Some of that will apply to outdoor applications. However, unlike indoor sites, outdoor sites will be more limited by backhaul capacity. Therefore, new methods will be required to provide data aggregation and higher capacity for wireless backhaul links (both nLoS and LoS).

  8. Self organizing networks and radio resource management across multiple bands/networks: In addition to what is envisioned in 3GPP, innovations in beamforming, antenna design and receiver design will be required to provide the high data throughput to end users in outdoor environments. Some of these may include ultra-broadband transceivers, directed beamforming, cell edge RF pattern control, ultra-sensitive receivers for micro cells, etc.

  9. Site Logistics: In addition to traditional site logistics issues like leasing, installation and concealment, installations may need to be coordinated across multiple carriers to ensure that requirements from the MVNOs are met. 

What do you think of these predictions?  Can anyone propose a 10th implication for future network or product design?

About the Author

Rajiv Chandrasekaran

Rajiv Chandrasekaran is the Director of Engineering, Technology Development for the CommScope Advanced Wireless Products Division. In this role, he is responsible for of the development of technologies related to major base-station components such as small cells (NodeB and eNodeB), remote radio heads, active antennas, transceivers, filters, and power amplifiers. Mr. Chandrasekaran has been with CommScope in various capacities since 2002. From 2002 – 2008, he was a member of the Advanced Technology Team, and from 2007-2008 he lead the engineering department for the after-market services group. Prior to joining CommScope, Mr. Chandrasekaran worked as the Director of Systems Engineering at Fujant Inc., an organization that developed multicarrier power amplifiers using LINC (Linear Amplifiers based on Nonlinear Components) technology. Mr. Chandrasekaran hold a Ph. D. and Master of Science degrees in electrical engineering with a concentration on signal processing and wireless systems from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Mr. Chandrasekaran holds several U.S. patents related to wireless communications systems in the areas of radio architectures, wideband pre-distortion, active antenna systems, and power amplifier linearization.

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