Small cells are low-power, high-capacity wireless nodes that operate in licensed bands and are installed in urban and dense urban areas to alleviate network capacity bottlenecks in a macro cell network overlay.

Small cell equipment is mostly based on LTE. However, multi-mode small cells also exist that support HSPA or EVDO along with LTE. Multi-mode small cell equipment enables operators to introduce small cells in 3G networks and plan the transition to LTE and LTE-A over a period of time.

In addition to HSPA/LTE and EVDO/LTE small cells operating in licensed bands, complementary Wi-Fi access points can also be added in a multi-RAT HetNet to offload mobile data traffic to Wi-Fi where needed. Some multi-mode small cell equipment includes Wi-Fi in addition to HSPA or EVDO and LTE.

One of the primary aspects of small cell planning is to determine the best suited site locations for small cells. The most suitable locations may include building facades, street lights, etc. Depending on the available data, the Atoll ACP (Automatic Cell Planning) can determine small cell site locations that present the least cost and the highest performance in terms of traffic absorption and capacity provision.

As small cell deployment mainly targets high traffic, urban and dense urban, areas in order to provide network capacity where needed, the Atoll ACP (Automatic Cell Planning) module can be used for the following small cell planning activities:

  • Propose new small cell locations that improve capacity deficits in the macro cell layer based on low-capacity zones (low-end modulations and coding schemes or low spectral efficiency) generated from the macro cell service area predictions.
  • Propose new small cell site locations that recover capacity losses in the macro cell layer based on traffic saturation statistics extracted from the macro cell Monte Carlo simulation results.
  • Select the most effective small cell sites from a list of potential small cell locations (street light posts, etc.) that provide the most capacity gains with the least cost, including connection to the backhaul network.