Precision Planning for 5G Era Networks with Small Cells

The ever-increasing demand for mobile data is driving network densification with the deployment of small cells. Although lower cost than macro towers, the compact, lowpower nature of small cells means they also have a smaller serving area. This in turn means they need to be located closer to demand hotspots in order to be effective in supplying traffic efficiently and delivering a good return on investment (ROI).

The benefit of any given small cell site essentially boils down to the amount of traffic it carries, whereas the cost is tied to installation, power, backhaul, rent, etc., and is largely independent of its utilisation. It follows that the value (or ROI) of a given site is affected by the precision with which it can be planned and sited. Small cells need to be located close to areas of high traffic demand that are not well served by the existing network, but they need to be placed with care. Recommended best practice is to locate the small cell within 20-40m of the ideal.