Small cells, or microcells, are often seen as a way to substantially enhance the capacity of cellular networks. Previous assumptions have been that by deploying a dense layer of small cells within a macrocell, capacity can be improved by an order of magnitude or more. However, there are complexities such as the need to share frequencies between macrocell and small cells, varying patterns of users, the balance between indoor and outdoor subscribers and the different options available within 4G for balancing loading. The purpose of this study is to understand the impact these real-world constraints have on the capacity enhancements that small cells can provide.
This paper describes a model that simulates the impact of small cell deployments in macrocells in a typical 4G network.
It shows that, in some cases, small cells can actually reduce capacity, while in the best case, maximum capacity gains are less than 100 per cent.
It shows that, in some cases, small cells can actually reduce capacity contrary to perceived wisdom.
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