Small Cells and Wi-Fi Offloading – 3rd Edition

  • September 2013
  • -
  • Berg Insight AB
  • -
  • 160 pages

Mobile operators are experiencing fast growth in mobile data and signalling traffic as more customers adopt smartphones, tablets and PCs with mobile broadband connections. Berg Insight forecasts that the number of active smartphone users worldwide will grow from 1.2 billion at the end of 2012 to 4.0 billion at the end of 2018. Total mobile data traffic in cellular networks have more than doubled every year since 2007 and is forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 50 percent from 2012 until 2018. Subscribers are also becoming more reliant on mobile phones as their primary or only device for voice communication and therefore expect ubiquitous network coverage.

In order to meet the rising demand, operators need to use a combination of approaches. These include improving the mobile macro layer by using more spectrum and increasingly advanced radio air interfaces with higher spectral efficiency, making the macro layer denser by installing more base stations in traffic hotspots, as well as introducing heterogeneous networks (HetNets). HetNets are composed of multiple radio technologies, architectures, backhaul solutions and base stations of varying transmission power. Examples of low power nodes include Remote Radio Units (RRU) and Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS), as well as small base stations including microcells, picocells and femtocells. Spectrum is a scarce resource and densification of the macro network gets more costly when site acquisition in metropolitan areas becomes more difficult. Spectrum reuse and deployment of multiple small cell base stations thus becomes more attractive. However, large-scale small cell deployments in public areas remain challenging since finding suitable backhaul and power can be difficult.

Several operators have already started to deploy microcells, picocells, femtocells and integrated carrier Wi-Fi network solutions. Since the introduction of 2G networks, operators have for instance deployed microcells to fill coverage holes in outdoor locations where macro cell deployments were unfeasible and DAS to enhance coverage in public indoor areas. Early femtocell deployments have also mainly focused on enhancing coverage for residential customers. Some operators have also started to use femtocells in various indoor public areas to enhance coverage and capacity. With the introduction of HetNets, small cell solutions increasingly become integrated nodes that also provide capacity enhancement to the network. Furthermore, small cells are increasingly becoming multi-mode solutions, incorporating cellular access technologies including 3G/LTE, in addition to Wi-Fi. HetNets also need to incorporate advanced interference management and Self-Organising Network (SON) technologies to reduce cost and complexity of installation and reduce network OPEX. Making use of Wi-Fi access points in unlicensed spectrum is an increasingly attractive solution as new standardisation and interoperability efforts such as Hotspot 2.0 aim to make the network selection and user identification process seamless.

A microcell is a small cellular base station that covers a limited area such as a shopping centre or a train station, serving up to about 100 simultaneous users. Output power is usually a few watts and the radius of the coverage area ranges between 100 metres and 300 metres. Similar to microcells, picocells add coverage and capacity to small areas such as offices or public venues. There is no clear distinction between microcells and picocells, though picocells are usually smaller, have lower output power and may support fewer simultaneous users. Picocells and microcells are deployed by the operator and are part of the RAN. Femtocells are low power cellular access points with about 10–100 mW output power, intended to extend coverage in home and office environments, supporting 4–32 simultaneous users. Femtocells are self-installing plug-and-play devices deployed by customers, using IP broadband connections for backhaul. In contrast to Wi-Fi access points, femtocells are mobile infrastructure components that operate in licensed spectrum.

Berg Insight estimates that mobile operators globally had deployed 4.1 million small cell cellular base stations at the end of 2012, including more than 3.5 million femtocells. Femtocells have mainly been deployed in homes and small offices, but enterprise femtocells can be expected to account for a growing share in the future. Mobile operators in North America, Japan and South Korea are now also stepping up deployments of open access femtocells, picocell and microcells in public areas to increase mobile network data capacity. Operators in other countries will gradually follow as data demand increases in hotspot areas. Berg Insight forecasts that the total installed base of cellular small cells will increase to 40 million units in 2018, including 33 million femtocells.

This report will allow you to:

• Benefit from numerous executive interviews with market leading companies.
• Comprehend how small cell technologies affect mobile networks.
• Identify key players on the global small cell market.
• Predict future business models for femtocell services.
• Anticipate the timing of mass-deployments of small cell devices and services.
• Realize the importance of integrated Wi-Fi offloading solutions.
• Evaluate the existing Wi-Fi offloading solutions from key vendors.
• Gain access to the latest data and forecasts about small cell shipments.

This report answers the following questions:

• What is the current status of the femtocell market?
• How will femtocell services evolve in the future?
• What are the femtocell strategies of the leading mobile operators?
• Which companies are active in the small cell market?
• Which operators have introduced Wi-Fi offloading solutions?
• How will cellular and Wi-Fi small cell technologies evolve in the future?
• How will North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific compare in terms of small cell deployments?

Table Of Contents

Table of Contents

Table of Contents i
List of Figures vii
Executive summary 1

1 Introduction to small cells and Wi-Fi offloading 3
1.1 Introduction 3
1.1.1 Continued growth in mobile subscriptions and handset sales 4
1.1.2 Broadband services drive fixed-line connection growth 5
1.1.3 Fixed-mobile convergence and fixed-mobile substitution market trends 7
1.1.4 Global mobile data traffic grows along with increasing smartphone adoption 8
1.2 Communication network technology evolution 11
1.2.1 Wireless technologies 11
1.2.2 Fixed-line broadband technologies 13
1.3 Mobile network capacity improvement strategies 15
1.3.1 Macro layer improvements 15
1.3.2 Macro layer densification 16
1.3.3 Heterogeneous networks (HetNets) 16
1.3.4 Femtocells 18
1.3.5 Wi-Fi network integration and mobile data offloading 20

2 Small cell and Wi-Fi technology 23
2.1 Mobile network standards and architectures 23
2.1.1 GSM/GPRS/EDGE networks 23
2.1.2 UMTS/HSPA networks 24
2.1.3 LTE networks 27
2.1.4 Heterogeneous networks (HetNets) 29
2.1.5 Microcells 31
2.1.6 Picocells 31
2.1.7 Femtocells 31
2.2 Femtocell architectures in 3GPP and 3GPP2 networks 32
2.2.1 3GPP UMTS femtocell specifications and interfaces 32
2.2.2 IMS based femtocell architecture 35
2.2.3 3GPP LTE femtocell architectures 35
2.3 Wi-Fi and cellular network integration 37
2.3.1 UMA/GAN 38
2.3.2 3GPP Wireless LAN Interworking (I-WLAN) 39
2.3.3 Hotspot 2.0 and Next Generation Hotspot 40

3 Small cell deployments 43
3.1 Small cells and femtocells from an operator perspective 43
3.1.1 The femtocell business case for mobile operators 43
3.1.2 Operator strategies 45
3.2 Small cell trials and commercial offerings 48
3.2.1 3 Group 51
3.2.2 ATandT 51
3.2.3 China Unicom 52
3.2.4 Cosmote 53
3.2.5 EE 53
3.2.6 KDDI au 53
3.2.7 MegaFon 54
3.2.8 Mobile TeleSystems 55
3.2.9 Network Norway 55
3.2.10 NTT DoCoMo 56
3.2.11 Optimus 56
3.2.12 Orange Group 57
3.2.13 SFR 58
3.2.14 SingTel Group 59
3.2.15 SK Telecom 60
3.2.16 SoftBank 61
3.2.17 Sprint 61
3.2.18 StarHub 63
3.2.19 Telefónica 63
3.2.20 Verizon Wireless 64
3.2.21 Vodafone 65

4 Wi-Fi network deployments 69
4.1 Wi-Fi network operators, aggregators and brokers 70
4.1.1 Boingo Wireless 71
4.1.2 Comfone 71
4.1.3 Fon 71
4.1.4 iPass 72
4.1.5 Trustive 72
4.2 Carrier Wi-Fi network deployments and services 73
4.2.1 ATandT 75
4.2.2 Belgacom 75
4.2.3 China Mobile 76
4.2.4 Chunghwa Telecom 77
4.2.5 Deutsche Telekom 77
4.2.6 Eircom 78
4.2.7 FarEasTone 79
4.2.8 Free Mobile 80
4.2.9 KDDI au 81
4.2.10 KPN 81
4.2.11 KT Corporation 82
4.2.12 LG Uplus 83
4.2.13 Mobily 84
4.2.14 Oi 85
4.2.15 PCCW Group 85
4.2.16 Swisscom 86
4.2.17 Telefónica O2 UK 87
4.2.18 Telenor 88
4.2.19 TeliaSonera 88
4.2.20 TIM Brasil 89
4.2.21 True Group 89

5 Vendor profiles and strategies 91
5.1 The small cell value chain 91
5.1.1 Small cell chipset and software vendors introduce reference designs 94
5.1.2 Acquisitions in the small cell ecosystem 94
5.2 End-to-end small cell system vendors and integrators 96
5.2.1 Alcatel-Lucent 96
5.2.2 Cisco Systems 99
5.2.3 Ericsson 101
5.2.4 Fujitsu 102
5.2.5 Hitachi 102
5.2.6 Huawei 103
5.2.7 NEC 104
5.2.8 Nokia Siemens Networks 105
5.2.9 Samsung Electronics 107
5.2.10 ZTE 108
5.3 Small cell and residential gateway vendors 108
5.3.1 ADB Group 109
5.3.2 Airspan Networks 109
5.3.3 Airvana 110
5.3.4 Alpha Networks 111
5.3.5 Arcadyan Technology 111
5.3.6 Askey Computer Corporation 112
5.3.7 Contela 112
5.3.8 Gemtek 112
5.3.9 Ip.access 113
5.3.10 Minieum Networks 115
5.3.11 Netgear 115
5.3.12 Public Wireless 116
5.3.13 PureWave Networks 116
5.3.14 Qucell 117
5.3.15 Quortus 117
5.3.16 Sagemcom 118
5.3.17 SerComm 118
5.3.18 SpiderCloud Wireless 119
5.3.19 Tecom 119
5.3.20 TEKTELIC Communications 120
5.3.21 UbeeAirWalk 120
5.3.22 ZyXEL Communications 121
5.4 Small cell chipset vendors 121
5.4.1 Ablaze Wireless 122
5.4.2 Broadcom 122
5.4.3 Cavium 123
5.4.4 Freescale Semiconductor 123
5.4.5 Mindspeed Technologies 124
5.4.6 Qualcomm 125
5.4.7 Texas Instruments 126
5.5 Small cell software and network gateway vendors 126
5.5.1 Acme Packet 127
5.5.2 Aricent Group 127
5.5.3 Genband 128
5.5.4 mimoOn 129
5.5.5 Node-H 129
5.5.6 Radisys 130
5.5.7 Stoke 130
5.5.8 Taqua 131
5.6 Wi-Fi data offloading solution vendors 132
5.6.1 Accuris Networks 133
5.6.2 Aptilo Networks 133
5.6.3 Birdstep 134
5.6.4 Devicescape 135
5.6.5 Greenpacket 136
5.6.6 Kineto Wireless 137
5.6.7 Notava 137
5.6.8 Smith Micro Software 138
5.6.9 WebToGo 138
5.6.10 WeFi 139
5.7 Wi-Fi equipment vendors 139
5.7.1 Alvarion 140
5.7.2 Aruba Networks 141
5.7.3 Edgewater Wireless 142
5.7.4 GoNet Systems 142
5.7.5 Motorola Solutions 143
5.7.6 Ruckus Wireless 143
5.7.7 Ubiquiti Networks 145
5.7.8 Xirrus 145
5.7.9 Z-Com 146

6 Market trends and forecasts 147
6.1 Small cell market trends 147
6.1.1 Moving from femtocell trials to commercial deployments 148
6.1.2 HetNets and the changing role of small cells 148
6.1.3 Wi-Fi offloading is gaining acceptance among mobile operators 150
6.1.4 HetNet and small cell adoption may lead to industry transformation 151
6.2 Small cell market forecasts 152
6.2.1 Smartphone, tablet and mobile PC adoption forecast 153
6.2.2 Cellular data traffic forecast 153
6.2.3 Global small cell deployment forecast 154
6.2.4 Small cell deployments in Asia-Pacific 156
6.2.5 Small cell deployments in Europe 157
6.2.6 Small cell deployments in North America 159
6.2.7 Global small cell shipment forecast 160

Glossary 165



List of Figures

Figure 1.1: Mobile subscriptions and handset sales by region (World 2012) 4
Figure 1.2: Fixed-line broadband connections by region (World Q4-2012) 6
Figure 1.3: Annual mobile voice and data traffic (World 2007-2012) 9
Figure 1.4: Annual mobile data traffic (USA 2009-2012) 10
Figure 1.5: Mobile subscriptions and handset sales by standard (World 2012) 11
Figure 1.6: Theoretical peak data rates by wireless technology 12
Figure 1.7: Theoretical peak data rates by fixed-line technology 14
Figure 2.1: UMTS network architecture 24
Figure 2.2: LTE network architecture 28
Figure 2.3: Heterogeneous network 29
Figure 2.4: Comparison of cellular network cell types 30
Figure 2.5: Iuh based femtocell architecture in UMTS networks 33
Figure 2.6: IMS based architecture 34
Figure 2.7: LTE femtocell architectures and interfaces 36
Figure 2.8: UMA/GAN architecture and interfaces 38
Figure 2.9: 3GPP I-WLAN architecture 40
Figure 3.1: Examples of commercial femtocell offerings (June 2013) 50
Figure 4.1: Examples of Wi-Fi network operators and aggregators (June 2013) 70
Figure 4.2: Examples of carrier Wi-Fi network operators (June 2013) 74
Figure 5.1: Small cell solutions by vendor (June 2013) 92
Figure 5.2: Overview of femtocell access point vendors (June 2013) 93
Figure 5.3: Acquisitions in the small cell ecosystem (2010-2013) 95
Figure 5.4: Examples of Wi-Fi equipment vendors (June 2013) 140
Figure 6.1: Comparison of main telecom indicators by region (World Q4-2012) 152
Figure 6.2: Handset shipments and user forecast (World 2012-2018) 153
Figure 6.3: Cellular data traffic usage forecast (World 2012-2018) 154
Figure 6.4: Small cell installed base (World 2012-2018) 154
Figure 6.5: Main telecom indicators in Asia-Pacific (2012-2018) 156
Figure 6.6: Main telecom indicators in EU27+2 (2012-2018) 158
Figure 6.7: Main telecom indicators in North America (2012-2018) 159
Figure 6.8: Small cell shipments by type (World 2012-2018) 161
Figure 6.9: Small cell shipments by region (World 2012-2018) 161
Figure 6.10: Small cell shipments by air interface (World 2012-2018) 162

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