Last Tuesday was trash day at my house. That’s no big deal in general, but my lovely bride hit me in a sore spot that particular day in a way that got me thinking about small cells.

Curious? Let me explain.


On Tuesdays, I gather up trash for this weekly event. One of my pet peeves is dealing with those last few squeezes of toothpaste out of a tube. I know it is not the most economically frugal approach, but I prefer to throw out the tube when it gets near the end as opposed to wringing the last gram of toothpaste out of it and dealing with the mess. So I chuck it.

When it comes to using every last bit of toothpaste or any other household product, my wife is “Super Woman.” She fervently believes it is her duty to not be wasteful. This particular week she scolded me when she saw I was about to throw yet another not-quite-finished tube out. She even handed me a special device she bought that helps get all the toothpaste out of the tube. Of course I had to comply (if I wanted to keep my teeth at all), and that’s when I started thinking about small cells.

I think we all understand that adding network capacity is really about cell densification. The term “small cell” has evolved in lots of ways depending on who you are talking to, but ultimately, what is needed are methods, tools and approaches to add density to the mobile network that enable better capacity efficiency. What we need is special tools like what my wife’s toothpaste extractor for squeezing out every last MHz of capacity.

It might not be the sexy approach, but a lot of capacity can be squeezed out by simply extending the capacity life of existing macro sites. There are lots of options for doing this including splitting hot sectors, using multiple sector configurations and even using mini macro arrangements in a concealed monopole.

During last year’s LTE North America I reviewed four options for boosting network capacity and four challenges when deploying “small cells.” If you want more information, check out the video of my presentation “So You Want to Go Small?: Practical Considerations for Adding Capacity in a Small Cell Approach.”

Have you thought about deploying small cells to help you boost your network capacity?

About the Author

Philip Sorrells

Philip Sorrells is vice president of strategic marketing for CommScope, a global leader in infrastructure solutions for communications networks. He is responsible for marketing strategy, linking key trends in the industry into marketing strategies for telecommunications networks.  Mr. Sorrells has 20 years of experience in the telecom industry with Allen Telecom, Andrew Corporation and CommScope, having spent 10 years prior with Texas Instruments. He has led the wireless industry in adopting many antenna system innovations—including remote electrical tilt (RET) technology for network optimization—and pioneering the concept of “agile networks,” which formed the basis for current initiatives in self-organizing networks. Mr. Sorrells has three patents related to antenna systems and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from Texas Tech University.

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