Wednesday 5 February 2020

5G Small Cells at Home

Last year, NGMN published a whitepaper on '5G Small Cells at Home'. The whitepaper is available here. The summary on the website states:

The first objective of this white paper is to explore the potential technologies that could help improve the performance of local connectivity at home.

In addition to this, the second objective is to look for solutions of radio resources management at home that would be controlled by the network. The current situation is that the local connectivity is selected by a connectivity manager embedded in the operating system of smartphones that may not have a complete view of what happens, for instance in terms of traffic on cellular networks.

The global objective for operators is then to keep home users connected wirelessly to their local – fixed access network based – connectivity (delivered e.g. by Wi-Fi, a “small cell at home”) with a “premium” quality of service instead of adding pressure on the Radio Access part of the mobile macro network. Challenges for mobile macro networks are for example a lack of (licensed) spectrum that can cover efficiently indoors from outdoor macro network (e.g. low bands spectrum), cost of the radio sites, incl. equipment.

The abstract from the whitepaper as follows:

It is observed that traffic offload - from cellular networks to indoor local Wi-Fi connectivity - takes place when users are at home, but tends to decrease, due to increasing cellular data volumes and due to sometimes better user experience (coverage, throughputs) offered by 4G compared to Wi-Fi 5 (mainly available today at home).

In order to reverse the current trend, this white paper proposes to consider 5G New Radio- Unlicensed (NR-U) technology (that will be part of the future 3GPP Release 16 – Dec. 2019) as a potential (additional) candidate for future small cells deployed at home.

It is expected that small cells at home using NR-U technology will provide – at least – radio performance as good as what Wi-Fi 6 could do, will enable the optimization of the management of radio resources as NR-U could be connected to operators’ core network. Furthermore, the deployment of small cells at home can ensure that the traffic generated at home will be transported via the fixed network, regardless if the Wi-Fi interface of the device is switched on or off.

It's available here.

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