Small cells in 2015 and beyond – a view from Huawei
Huawei are sponsoring the Market Status Presentations at Small Cell Forum Champions Day in Rome 2015. In this blog, Peter Zhou explains why Huawei are investing more and more in small cells in 2015 and beyond.
From the beginning of last year, we set up an independent business unit within Huawei for small cells. Before that, small cells were part of the product development team alongside other product lines like single RAN. We wanted to make sure the wireless business unit had independent thinking, not only on product strategy, but also on business models. Huawei’s small cells have been recognised by the industry, from the innovation point of view and the shipment point of view, and we have put a lot of work into them. For example, we have over 1,000 R&D staff working together with me on those products.
In 2014 we decided to focus on indoor. We also found the data traffic going indoors was very quickly increasing. Legacy solutions like DAS were not offering enough capacity. There were many problems so we knew we needed some kind of new solutions for indoors. This was LampSite.
If you look at this solution, it’s a macro base station with a small transmission power radio access unit. Even last year, some people were questioning me saying ‘is LampSite a small cell or a macro site?’. I’d say it’s a cloud baseband-based small cell. Right now, luckily, this kind of solution that uses cloud BB is one operators are familiar with and one that they have a great level of confidence in. We also expect pRRUs [small radio access units] shipment to hit a new level by the end of this year and nearly 200 operators are using this product.
Outdoor has also seen very good results. More than 80 operators are using our Micro products and the shipment also increased greatly this year. We also started to develop new products, for example pico. A new pico is coming to market right now, for enterprise and residential deployments. This is different from LampSite. With the LampSite, all of the baseband processing is essentially allocated in one BBU. For the pico, it’s a standalone base station. The BBU processing is there, as is the RRU. In one box, it has wi-fi, which supports 11ac dual-band, UMTS, LTE and carrier aggregation.
Another area we had to be aware of is the business model of the mobile industry. By now, we can see the traffic is becoming very important for the whole industry. Beforehand, the mobile industry relied on voice. Right now, it is based on data traffic. Voice is usually unlimited now. Because of data traffic, customers are more likely to stick with a certain network.
Our next stage will be based on digital services. For Huawei’s small cell strategy, we need one box to support multi-mode, multi-band. That’s our dream and one we are doing. Our next generation pico and LampSite will be one box to support of all the bands across Europe. We will bring this to the market by the end of this year. We want unlicensed and licensed spectrum to work together in one box. This will provide a stronger pipe to produce a better user experience for people. That’s why we support licence assisted access (LAA) from now on.