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Small Cells and pCells – can mobile win on speed and cost?

The early plans for the NBN ignored wireless as an access technology anywhere except regional Australia, where fixed technologies were considered too expensive.

Since then cellular technologies have come along leaps and bounds and most vendors are talking about driving data throughput as much as 1,000 times. Could it ultimately become the most cost effective way of connecting to the Internet?

On this week’s CrossTalk Andres Torres, Strategic Marketing Manager at Ericsson, talks about their approach to Heterogeneous Networks. Getting more out of your macro cells is part of the answer, as well as denser networks and the deployment of small cells. Mike Smathers, Head of Solutions Architecture at Nokia Solutions and Networks, says lots of small cells can create headaches if they are not coordinated – but their Flexi Zone product manages the behaviour of a cluster of small cells underneath a macro cell.

So small cells and denser networks will go some way to meeting future demand, but California start-up Artemis reckons they are a step ahead of the competition with their pCell technology. CEO Steve Perlman explains how multiple devices could share the same spectrum, each enjoying full-speed downloads, even if you’re at the edge of a macro cell and there are hundreds of other users close by.

If mobile technology is getting so fast sand so efficient do we really need the NBN to provide a fast fixed connection into our home? Telecommunications consultant Robert James says fibre needs to be near to your house – in the street, or perhaps in a neighbour’s house – but for many of us that last leg could be delivered by device, in the city or in the country.

“People are deploying pCells in places where the operator plans to directly compete with cable and DSL providers for home services,” says Perlman. Perhaps fixed to mobile substitution has begun.

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