Wireless networks need to handle an ever increasing number of devices, consuming high volumes of data, both indoors and outdoors, and in a very unpredictable pattern with seamless coverage and consistent capacity.
A Heterogeneous Network (HetNet) is comprised of a combination of cellular Macro Cells, Small Cells, Carrier WiFi and supporting technologies to meet the coverage and usage demands of both humans and machines (associated with IoT apps and services).
In a HetNet environment, the Macro Cell provides a larger umbrella coverage area while Small Cells are placed in strategically closer locations to the UE to provide required coverage and capacity. HetNets are critical infrastructure for the success of LTE and for the development of future 5G based networks.
Technical and business considerations for deploying HetNets include the following:
- Network Planning and Dimensioning: Selection of appropriate objectives and network planning tools
- Small Cell AP Type: Deciding on the type of Small Cell AP that will be deployed
- Auto Configuration and Self-Organizing Networks (SON): Small Cell APs should have Auto Configuration Capabilities as well as incorporation of SON technologies
- Interference Management: Plan to deal with known and anticipated interference issues
- Carrier Aggregation: Aggregation of carrier frequencies from different bands of the available spectrum types to provide a higher speed to the subscriber
- Seamless Mobility: Mobility between cellular and carrier WiFi nodes
- Security: Need plan for robust authentication for the connecting mobile devices
- Backhaul Solutions: A critical component of the system is the ability to back-haul RF traffic to the core network
- Future Proofing: System should support the capability to be seamlessly upgraded to 5G technologies and other future solutions
HetNets are expected to play a pivotal role in addressing network capacity needs, bring about improvements in carrier operations, and create opportunities for new revenue streams.