If future predictions are any indication to go by then total mobile data capacity demand is poised to grow between 20 and 50 times over the next five years. With so much data being constantly transmitted, it may be difficult to solve the problem of increased demand, especially with costs significantly rising. However, a new technology, in the shape of metro cells, may well be the answer to both freeing up the need for additional demand as well as finding a cost-effective solution.
Metro cells are compact, discrete mobile phone base stations, which are usually located in urban areas. They can be easily mounted and positioned on the sides of buildings or found in train stations, transport hubs, and other public areas, which have large mobile penetration usage. They could also enhance the quality of mobile phone services and deliver high speeds of data and capacity efficiently. Mobile service providers can also benefit through an increased quality of experience, market share growth and a heightened customer retention rate.
Here are other advantages:
- They operate in a licensed spectrum. Here, unlike Wi-Fi where the frequencies are shared equally, a metro cell network operator can manipulate the radio coverage and interference throughout, achieving more predictable results. This is significant in areas of high mobile traffic or in busy environments such as public transportation locations like bus and train stations or airports.
- Metro cells are much smaller than macro cells. Thus, rather than a cell tower or mast, metro cells are actually similar in size to laptops or tablets. In this regard, their format makes it much easier to find suitable locations for installation.
- They have a lower radio frequency (RF) power and capacity than macro cells, which are typically 1W to 2W with a maximum of 5W. On the other hand, metro cells can handle 16 or 32 concurrent voice calls, and can stream data at the highest 3G and 4G speeds.
However, one of the drawbacks with metro cells is that their data streaming range is much shorter than that of macro cells. With a range of only approximately 100 meters as compared to several kilometers by macro cells, there is a greater need for a larger numbers of metro cells within a location, including at the street level.
Nevertheless, metro cells have a distinct advantage over macro cells in that they may be managed and operated by the mobile network providers directly and unlike macro cells, which are that much larger in shape and size, metro cells can overcome problems of installation, positioning, and inflated costs. Also, their comparatively lower cost per unit means they can deliver the same extra capacity as macro cells for less than half the cost.
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