Ericsson said Netherlands-based operator KPN inaugurated a C-RAN small cell in an Amsterdam bus stop that will offer subscribers seamless coverage when moving in and out of the cell's coverage area.
Sprint is reportedly about to embark on a radical overhaul of its cellular network that will include moving its antennas off of towers owned by companies like Crown Castle and American Tower and instead using government-owned land and towers with cheaper rent. In addition, the carrier is rumored to also be ending its reliance on fiber for backhaul and instead use microwave, which will mean it won't have to lease fiber from players like AT&T and Verizon. According to Re/code, which first reported Sprint's network plans, the revamp of its network towers and backhaul could save the company $1 billion and begin as soon as June.
Level 3 took the road less traveled in the wireless backhaul race by not aggressively pursuing selling wireless backhaul services to wireless operators' towers. However, it sees greater potential in the emerging small cell market.
The cable industry is in the midst of gearing up for 5G. Specifically, according to a top executive from the cable industry's technology research consortium, cable operators could provide the high-speed small cells to wireless operators that would support connections up to 40 Gbps.
Tower operator Crown Castle said that the demand for small cells is behind most of the company's construction costs. In the third quarter, the company reported that it had spent approximately $98 million building new sites, most of which were small cell sites.
Despite the same old challenges related to power and backhaul that small cells historically have had, Nokia Networks is seeing a lot of momentum for small cells, especially in North America and China.
Alaskan carrier General Communication Inc. (GCI) is partnering with ClearSky Technologies to roll out and manage residential femtocells for its customers in an effort to boost coverage. GCI is using ClearSky's Small Cell as a Service (SCaaS) platform and in October signed a multi-year contract with ClearSky to enhance coverage and capacity for its wireless users.
In meetings with investment analysts, executives from tower company Crown Castle reiterated their belief that top wireless carriers will continue to densify and expand their nationwide wireless networks through a combination of new spectrum, small cells and standard macro cell buildouts.
Verizon and American Tower executives highlighted the challenges to installing small cells and Distributed Antenna Systems, especially in urban markets and inside buildings, even as they acknowledged that such installations will be key to their businesses going forward.
Alcatel-Lucent said Telefonica Business Solutions took a major step towards automating delivery of value-added services after a successful test of NFV in a multi-vendor SDN environment, while separately revealing it has commenced shipments of a residential small cell product.