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5 things to expect at Mobile World Congress

Posted: 27 Feb 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Mobile World Congress? M2M? IoT? 5G? LTE?

Return of small cells

Demand for small cell base stations will be returning to Mobile World Congress this year, with a number of major announcements from companies in the cellular networking game. Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, Aquantia, and others aim to solve the problems of increasing data rates and the need for speed with a variety of configurable small cells.

Instalment of macro cells has peaked in the United States, Korea, Japan and China, Linley Group Analyst Jag Bolaria told EE Times. This year's MWC will see significant growth in LTE and LTE-Advanced, as well as combination technologies.

  • Most of the investment is going to be in some combination of small cell-type base technologies to increase coverage and focus on specific areas where there are large, dense populations and plug holes in their coverage. Chip companies are developing integrated solutions with small cells... we will see DSPs and CPUs rolled into macro base station SoCs.

While major chip vendors are working on small cell SoCs, Bolaria also expects different technologies to roll out at the conference and throughout the year. Distributed antenna systems for stadiums, small cells for dense but sprawled campuses, and macro tower relays will all play a role in communications for the next five years.

Small cells

Ericsson redefines small cells

Although many experts would put the arrival of 5G in 2020, mobile operators and networking companies are readying themselves today. Ericsson developed a new radio system modular architecture and router to accommodate multi-standard and multi-band technology. Ericsson expects its system to support up to 25 exabytes per month of mobile data by 2020.

Following trends in networking, several operators hope to bring the cost of communications down through virtualisation such as cloud-radio access networks (C-RAN), which aims to reduce cost, centralise base band units, and have remote radios. Aquantia announced a 28nm low-power, adaptive rate physical layer transceivers for indoor C-RAN architectures to improve indoor cellular connection.

Aquantia's AQcell can transport multi-gigabit/s digitised cellular signals over up to 200m of copper cables. AQcell PHYs act as the front haul solution between remote radio units and centralised base band units at 2.45Gbit/s, 4.92Gbit/s and 9.83Gbit/s data rates.

Small cell base stand

Ericsson's small cell base stand. Source: Ericsson

C-RAN is problematic because several gigabits per second speeds require a lot of bandwidth, which requires a lot of fibre; that infrastructure isn't in place everywhere. As 5G nears, Bolaria expects OEMs to increase data rates by adding more antennas, more complex modulation to have more bits per symbol, and introduce more spectrum.

"You're not going to see any one particular winner in this space. You'll see combination of everything," he said. Standardisation activity around 5G may begin this year, which chip rollout in 2017 and 2018, followed by the first systems in Korea and Japan in time for the 2020 Olympics.

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