Nokia claims new LTE small cells offer macro cell smarts

Nokia (NYSE:NOK) Solutions and Networks said its new Flexi Zone LTE microcell and picocell base stations are unique not just for their diminutive size but also because they pack the same features and capacity as macro base stations.

NSN Flexi Zone SEC

NSN's Flexi Zone (Image courtesy NSN)

NSN contends the microcells and picocells, because they are smaller and lighter than earlier generations, can be mounted closer to the center of traffic hot spots. The devices are each packaged into a 5 kilogram, 5 liter-size box.

NSN's latest small cells, which will be available in early 2014, include a system on a chip (SoC) that delivers the same processing power as that found in a macro cell, enabling them to run the same software as NSN's macro base stations. "This makes it easy to integrate them into complex HetNets and drastically simplifies software upgrades across the network so that the same features are available everywhere at the same time," said the company.

According to Daryl Schoolar, principal analyst for Network Infrastructure at Ovum, "One of the reasons for reality of small cell uptake not matching early overhyped expectations can be attributed to the fact that maturity of the product offerings had not met operator expectations. Software and feature parity between macro and micro/pico cells is one of the critical steps needed in the small cell market maturation."

Similarly, Infonetics Research recently reported that the pace of small cell deployment is much slower than expected because small cell and macro cell rollouts have nothing in common. That means operators are wrestling with new internal business processes that can accommodate the diminutive base stations, taking into consideration issues such as footfall, building dimensions, backhaul availability, and wireless technology.

NSN said its new small cells are initially targeted at providing hot spot capacity, but can be upgraded to create denser and larger hot zones. "As traffic demand rises, they can be upgraded to a full Flexi Zone deployment to build seamless multi-layer, high-density, future-proof HetNets," said Randy Cox, NSN's head of small cells product management at NSN.

In other NSN news, the vendor announced that Japan's NTT DoCoMo is using NSN's advanced location system, which supports Assisted Global Navigation Satellite System (A-GLONASS) positioning technology. By adopting A-GLONASS positioning technology, the number of visible GPS satellites can be supplemented with GLONASS satellites, thus improving the positioning success rate, NSN said.

GLONASS is a 24-satellite navigation system operated by the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces. It can be used by commercial services to complement the 32-satellite Global Positioning System (GPS) maintained by the U.S. government.

For more:
- see this NSN release and this release

Related articles:
Schoolar: From top to bottom, it isn't easy being in the base station business
Verizon's rumored demands may help explain small cell slowdown
Report: Small cells market returning to growth in 2013
Large network vendors deliver confused small cell backhaul messages
Report: Nokia Siemens leads LTE base station ranking

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