Analyst asks: Why not deploy Carrier-grade Wi-Fi with small cells?

ABI Research says that, "as they climb the data mountain," operators should leverage their approximately 14 million outdoor small cells to deploy Carrier-grade Wi-Fi.

Apr 25th, 2014

ABI Research has released its Small Cells and Wi-Fi Integration Status report, the latest analysis in the firm's small cells and Carrier Wi-Fi market research.

As worldwide mobile broadband traffic heads toward 200 Exabytes per year, ABI notes that operators are deploying 4G LTE and LTE-A technologies, pleading for spectrum, and trying to manage usage through policy and pricing. "The physics of mobile broadband radio do not follow Moore’s Law of digital scaling, so leading-edge operators are ready to address the physical realities of small cells," contends the analyst. "Nevertheless, the question remains - why not deploy Carrier-grade Wi-Fi with the small cells?

See also: Wi-Fi seen trumping LTE, small cells in operator networks

ABI contends that industry advocates and operators are indeed calling for more spectrum, and with HotSpot 2.0 gaining traction, operators should consider adding unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum and small cells with Carrier-grade Wi-Fi as part of their service offering. “Wi-Fi is an integral part of the smartphone and tablet experience,” points out Joe Hoffman, practice director for mobile networks at ABI Research. “Operators will do well to make Carrier Wi-Fi a part of that experience.”

The new report reveals that several mobile operators -- led by top-tier firms such as China Mobile and AT&T -- are incorporating Wi-Fi solutions in their HetNet architectures -- and many other operators will soon follow. “The added capacity and incremental economics of incorporating Wi-Fi into a HetNet portfolio are almost self-evident,” continues Hoffman. "This research highlights both infrastructure and specialist vendors and their approaches to small cell and Wi-Fi integration. Additionally, the discussion includes the challenges facing integration and their solutions."

Related: Report: Outdoor small cell backhaul market set to boom

Deploying a small cell with an integrated Wi-Fi solution is part of an overall strategy that operators will find maximizes the investment return from small cells, concludes ABI. The firm expects that as such it will require only incremental capex from operators to add Wi-Fi into their solution mix. For more information visit www.abiresearch.com, or call +1.516.624.2500.

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