Small cells and Wifi offloading


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Now mainstream for MNOs

As mobile data proliferates so too does the demand for capacity and coverage.
Many options exist to cope with data surge. Small cell deployment and Wifi offloading are the main ones.

Small cells give the opportunity to come closer to the user and to offer a better coverage, indoors or outdoors at low cost.

Despite remaining technological hurdles, Wifi is a heavily deployed and cost-effective solution promoted by MNOs themselves for offloading, and by alternative players willing to eat into MNO revenues.

This report presents the state-of-the art of the small cell and Wifi opportunities to close the gap and highlights strategies at play. It also gives the flavour of future scenarios.

Table of Content

1. Executive Summary
1.1. Options to support higher capacity in mobile networks
1.2. Wifi and Carrier Wifi role for mobile data traffic offloading
1.3. Small cells playing a more important role in MNO networks
1.4. Players' strategies
1.4.1. MNO strategies
1.4.2. Strategies from other players
1.4.3. Traffic and small cell traffic forecasts

2. Methodology & definitions
2.1. General methodology of IDATE's reports
2.2. Definitions

3. Options to support higher capacity in mobile networks
3.1. C-RAN (Cloud, Centralised or Collaborative)
3.1.1. Competing architectures
3.1.2. State of maturity
3.1.3. C-RAN deployments over the world
3.2. Macro cell network densification and other technical improvements
3.3. Impact of Outdoor DAS and Wifi
3.3.1. What is a DAS?
3.3.2. Distributed Antenna System (DAS) is a short-term option valid for large venues
3.3.3. DAS and Wifi
3.4. The spectrum issue
3.4.1. Acquiring new spectrum
3.4.2. Using innovative spectrum regimes
3.4.3. Aggregating spectrum across different bands
3.4.4. Using unlicensed spectrum (versus licensed spectrum)
3.5. LTE-U, LAA, LWA
3.5.1. LTE-Unlicensed & LAA
3.5.2. LTE Wifi Access (LWA) initiatives
3.6. Other technical solutions
3.6.1. Samsung Download Booster and DSMIP
3.6.2. Aggregating more than five Carrier Components for increased throughputs
3.6.3. TDD LTE UL & DL Carrier Aggregation

4. Wifi and Carrier-Wifi role for mobile data traffic offloading
4.1. Understanding Wifi technology
4.1.1. Different technologies (from 802.11b to 802.11ac)
4.1.2. Wifi as an offloading technology
4.1.3. Roaming capabilities
4.2. Handover between Wifi and cellular technologies
4.2.1. ANDSF
4.2.2. Other technologies
4.2.3. Traffic offloading status
4.3. Wifi calling and VoWiFi (Voice over Wifi) enables capex cut
4.3.1. What is Wifi calling?
4.3.2. Operators and cablecos strategies around Wifi calling
4.3.3. Technical challenges
4.4. Enabling capex reduction

5. Small cells playing a more important role in MNO networks
5.1. The emergence of new business models
5.1.1. US Tower companies & small cells
5.1.2. UK Tower companies
5.2. The strategic access to street furniture
5.2.1. JCDecaux
5.2.2. Philips and Ericsson
5.3. Are small cells really inexpensive?
5.3.1. Backhaul
5.3.2. Cost per GB
5.4. The chipset question
5.4.1. Qualcomm
5.4.2. What are the other chipset manufacturers doing?

6. Player strategies
6.1. MNO strategies
6.1.1. Small cells are right now the hottest topic
6.1.2. DAS (Distributed Antenna System) is a complementary approach deployed for a couple of years
6.1.3. Cloud RAN is still just a concept
6.1.4. Wifi has been a capacity solution since 2007
6.1.5. Cost-reduction issues
6.2. Strategies from other players
6.2.1. WiFi-first players
6.2.2. Cablecos
6.2.3. OTT (Over-The-Top) players
6.2.4. Other players
6.2.5. Small cell vendors strategies
6.3. Traffic and small cells forecasts
6.3.1. Main trends
6.3.2. The IDATE mobile data traffic forecasts
6.3.3. Small cells forecasts

7. Glossary


Table 1: LTE population coverage in leading LTE countries (in terms of subscribers)
Table 2: Advantages and risks for LSA
Table 3: Wifi and mobile network characteristics
Table 4: Wifi generations
Table 5: The different ways to provide voice services
Table 6: Wifi-calling launches by MNOs
Table 7: Presentation of main small cell chipset players
Table 8: Consolidation of the small cell chipset market
Table 9: Advantages and drawbacks of capacity and coverage options for MNOs
Table 10: Small cell and Wifi current status and upcoming developments
Table 11: Selection of MNO/integrated players Wifi hotspots
Table 12: VoWifi/Wifi calling launches by MNOs
Table 13: Selection of MNO options
Table 14: Scratch Wireless cellular passes
Table 15: Republic Wireless cellular passes
Table 16: Selection of cablecos Wifi hotspots
Table 17: Small cell vendors positioning
Table 18: Wifi and small cells - current status and coming developments


Figure 1: The evolution from distributed RAN to C-RAN
Figure 2: Capex and opex reduction in a C-RAN trial with TD-SCMA
Figure 3: Presentation of DOCOMO's Advanced C-RAN concept aggregating both small and macro cell
Figure 4: SK Telecom LTE fronthaul and backhaul architecture
Figure 5: KT Cloud RAN solution
Figure 6: Example of a DAS system
Figure 7: Boingo DAS deployments in the US, as of end 2014
Figure 8: Price of premium 4G spectrum
Figure 9: LTE-U, LAA, LWA timeline
Figure 10: The Licensed-Assisted Access principles
Figure 11: The Licensed-Assisted Access study item work plan (Ericsson)
Figure 12: LTE-Wifi aggregation principle
Figure 13: Comparison between simple LTE-A carrier aggregation, LTE-U and LWA (LTE-H)
Figure 14: Qualcomm initial presentation on LWA
Figure 15: Samsung Download Booster Wifi - LTE Aggregation technology
Figure 16: Demonstration of five Carrier Components aggregation at Mobile World Congress 2015 by KT
Figure 17: Demonstration of Upload and Download carrier aggregation in TDD mode by KT
Figure 18: Wifi evolution path
Figure 19: Passpoint – seamless 3G/4G/Wifi roaming
Figure 20: Hotspot 2.0 Release 2 components
Figure 21: Phases of development of Hotspot 2.0
Figure 22: Wifi roaming, Advantage-risk diagram
Figure 23: Cellular and Wifi traffic in France, Germany, Italy and UK
Figure 24: World&You brings unlimited calling and messaging abroad to Bouygues customers
Figure 25: Evolution of Wifi calling
Figure 26: Cost advantage of Wifi deployment in small cell environment
Figure 27: American Tower worldwide portfolio
Figure 28: Comparison of rooftop sites from various tower companies in Manhattan
Figure 29: Comparison of the cost per GB between a macro network and a street-light network
Figure 30: Towards hyper density and emergence of smart cities
Figure 31: Strategies at play in the face-off between cellular and Wifi
Figure 32: Coverage and capacity strategy example by OI
Figure 33: What is the best technology for providing wireless / mobile access in rural areas?
Figure 34: Rural and remote small cell network architecture, proposed by the Small Cell Forum
Figure 35: Capex and opex reduction in a C-RAN trial with TD-SCMA
Figure 36 NTT DOCOMO Cloud RAN
Figure 37: Options for deployment of small cell (femtocell) networks
Figure 38: Total mobile annual traffic 2015-2020