In an online interview with Techstination, Mike Haberman, VP of the network for Verizon’s wireless business, set the record straight about where Verizon is headed with its small cell deployments. He also announced that while other networks may talk more about their small cell deployment, it is Verizon that has more small cells than any other US carrier does. A small cell is a lower-powered cellular radio access node that is more cost-efficient to increase network capacity especially in crowded areas such as downtown near schools, arenas, or that crowded street with lots of eateries. He said Verizon is doing the small cell deployments for the same reason other carriers are doing it – to make sure that gaps in coverage are filled in areas that a large tower may miss.
While the large cell towers we see up on a hill provide the main “umbrella network” coverage, the small cells fill in in the gaps. You can find them on traffic lights and utility poles, and they are easy to install and can be very effective in handling dense areas of LTE traffic. They also help keep up the speed of transmission. With Verizon’s new unlimited data plans, it is more important than ever to have the small cells in place. Haberman specifically mentioned the increase in demand because of their new unlimited data plans. He claims that Verizon wants all customers to expect the same type of service they had experienced before the unlimited plans went into effect. Verizon is also using carrier aggregation and Multiple Input – Multiple Outlet (MIMO) antenna technologies as well to bolster their signal.
Verizon also believes the small cell networks will play a big part in the next generation of 5G speed mobile internet. Speed will become the driving factor in the next deployment, and small cells can help make that happen around congested areas. The spectrum used for 5G is a higher-band spectrum, while faster, covers less area than the lower bands. There are two types of small cells – low-power ones to cover small areas and to boost indoor coverage. The high-powered cells are deployed to cover outdoor areas in crowded downtowns where they need a stronger signal that reaches out to more people.