The backbones of cellular networks are cell towers. Their high elevations enable wireless operators to cover wide areas and many subscribers. The industry began with towers and continues to rely on them for macro cellular coverage. But in order to continue meeting their customers’ insatiable demand for data and bandwidth, cellular operators today have to densify their networks.
Network densification can be accomplished in many ways, but it often involves deploying outdoor small cells (or metro cells). Although focused on the 4G technologies of today, the operators are looking to support 5G in the future. The development and deployment of any cellular site requires solving three key challenges:
- Site Acquisition
For outdoor small cells, site acquisition is all about overcoming the zoning challenges. How the sites look is a key factor in obtaining zoning approvals. Local municipalities are concerned with the aesthetics of a site and can hold up deployments until the site looks right. We see industry trends toward concealing the radio and antenna equipment with decorative enclosures and integrated street light poles to hasten approvals by improving the overall aesthetics of the site. CLICK TO TWEET: The Future of Cell Site Development
CommScope is a leader in the outdoor small cell space by anticipating customer needs and developing high quality, pre-configured and thermally tested metro cell solutions. Of course, smaller sized equipment is often needed for small cell sites. Antennas, cabling and connectors all have been physically miniaturized to meet size requirements, which CommScope provides. Superior RF performance remains critical in order to achieve the high-speed data rates needed for 4G and 5G networks.
Network operators also need speed in terms of how quickly they can deploy sites. Concealment options can help speed up the lengthy zoning process for small cells. CommScope also helps operators deploy macro sites more quickly by offering pre-integrated platforms. These platforms sit at the bottom of cell towers. In the old days, they needed to be constructed, equipped and connected on-site – a lengthy process that involved manual labor and specialized skills. With pre-integrated platforms, much of the base equipment is already installed and connected on the platform. This speeds the deployment time while also reducing the risks for installation errors.
For a deeper dive into these and other aspects of cell site development, explore chapter two in the updated “Understanding the RF Path” ebook. It explains these trends in greater detail and gives a comprehensive background to how cell sites are created.