In 2018 CES, South Korea Winter Olympics and MWC, 5G is undoubtedly a hot topic, companies including Qualcomm, Intel, Huawei, Samsung, Ericsson, ZTE and major mobile operators are all discussing 5G development blueprint. With the full Release 15 specification to be completed around the June 2018 by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), the competition for 5G technology will begin in 2018, says TrendForce.
According to Kelly Hsieh, research director of TrendForce, demand for 5G applications will gradually emerge as consensus on 5G standards and 5G application scenarios are being formed. Particularly, small cells are key to 5G as they can support increasing demand of data performance. It is estimated that the global deployments and installed base of small cells will reach 2.838 million units in 2018 and 4.329 million units in 2019, an annual growth of 52.5%.
Small cell remain a key to 5G and mobile edge computing
As 5G technology matures and edge computing grows more important, new services and equipment will be improved in the future, and more functions will be at the edge. 5G technology features high-speed, low-latency, and can deal with large number of connection, bringing out new opportunities to enterprises. It may also make IoT deployments possible. On the other hand, 5G is also one of the keys to fully-autonomous vehicles. Low-latency communication can provide drivers with instant messages, including traffic and weather, and can even link cars to infrastructures of smart city such as parking meters and traffic signs.
In sum, 5G will connect new devices and implement new internet applications so as to increase mobile data usage and traffic. Part of the data comes from indoors, so mobile operators must enhance indoor coverage in order to strengthen the quality of signals and to meet the needs of users. In this case, small cells, which are smaller than macro cells in size, will be more flexible to deploy. Mobile operators can use small cells to expand the coverage and to improve network capacity, improving the quality of telecommunication. Particularly, in crowded areas, small cells can divert 80% of data traffic, which means, increase hotspot capacity to make up for areas not covered by macro cells (both indoor and outdoor) to improve network performance and service quality.
China, U.S and South Korea are the fastest in small cell deployments
In terms of mobile network development, small cells will achieve higher level of integration, allowing for multimode, multiband deployment, and integrate unlicensed spectrum. Through indoor digital upgrades, small cells will also upgrade the network and improve efficiency. The deployment of base stations is simplified. Small cells can carry large sum of data transmission brought by Internet of Things and integrated wireless backhaul, improving the adaptation to environment and reducing investment costs significantly.
Therefore, with the development of 5G technology, small cells will become key equipment adopted by global mobile operators. Currently, mobile operators in China, the United States and South Korea are the most active, including China Mobile, Verizon, AT&T, and SK Telecom.