Arctic Semiconductor is maximizing coverage and capacity by enabling the most cost-effective high-performance small cell solution utilizing its cutting-edge RF chipsets. Small cells are critical for comprehensive 5G coverage both in an indoor and outdoor environment. Whether fully integrated or in the form of distributed networks, they are THE solution for increasing capacity, reaching more subscribers, and providing next-level performance both in a public and private network.
best-in-class RF chipsets
For service providers and the telecommunications industry, 5G deployments are a major and critical undertaking as they strive to increase market share with a more powerful and programmable network. A small cell is a mini wireless network base station with integrated RF and networking functionalities to provide cellular access to a smaller number of users in an indoor or outdoor setting. While comprehensive 5G coverage is the goal, it cannot be done without small cells! Recent hardware technology breakthroughs are giving the network equipment manufacturer the capability to develop energy efficient and cost effective small cell equipment with better thermal management, a smaller form factor, and higher performance. These cutting-edge small cells bring about the possibility to extend 5G coverage in hard-to-reach areas, indoor buildings, and highly dense environments.
Arctic Semiconductor offers the best-in-class RF chipsets in the market to enable equipment manufacturers and device makers to develop and build compact, cost-effective small cells with the highest performance in the market. These small cells solve real issues for service providers including meeting performance metrics such as throughput and delay while significantly reducing total cost of ownership.
What is a Small Cell?
A small cell is a mini wireless network base station with integrated RF and networking functionalities to provide cellular access to a smaller number of users in an indoor or outdoor setting. They are made to be small, compact, and unobtrusive. In the U.S. the FCC guidelines require small cells to be no larger than 3 cubic feet in volume. In addition, small cells must be deployed on structures less than 50 feet high, including their antennas. These structures can be no more than 10 percent taller than adjacent structures and cannot extend their existing structure to a height of higher than 50 feet or more than 10 percent.
Small cells can be developed in 2 forms:
- Integrated Small Cells
- Distributed Network
They can have 3 different forms: microcells, picocells and femtocells. While microcells are the most powerful of small cells in terms of range and number of supported users (200 users), picocells (64 users) and femtocells (8-16 users) are targeting mostly indoor applications and a lower number of users. You may notice microcells on poles, streetlights and sides of buildings while picocells are used in schools, stores, and enterprises. Generally, small cells require fiber, cable, or a wired type of connection to the distributed unit or core network.
How is Arctic changing the game?
80% of data is consumed indoor
Poor indoor coverage is one of the main drivers for bringing 5G on the mid-band into buildings. Applications and technologies that are expected to be deployed indoors within the next few years require extensive performance in terms of throughput and delay while number of users are multiplying. Utilizing 5G also facilitates network slicing in many indoor applications which leads to added revenue due to customized services and network-specific capabilities. These applications include but are not limited to:
- Video recognition and analytics
- Remote control of machinery
- Automated guided vehicles
- Autonomous mobile robots
- Extended reality
- Digital twins
Arctic Semiconductor is enabling high performance small cell solutions by offering RF products that support difficult to achieve specifications of 5G in a fully integrated CMOS chipset. The cost-effectiveness of these products enables customers to develop fully integrated small cells as well as distributed Radio Units (RU) with split 7.2 or split 8 supporting FR1 and FR2 frequencies. One of the most important features is the multi-band, multi-standard operation of the RF silicon. This facilitates high levels of programmability and scalability when it comes to the end-to-end system development.
Another key benefit is the energy efficiency of these products. With small cells, form factor and power consumption are the most important limiting issues. In order to enable deployment of small cells in large volumes, equipment manufacturers and network operators need to adapt to the physical limitations of the indoor environment. Also, power consumption and the associated heat dissipation of silicon affects both form factor of the box and its cost. Arctic reduces PCB area in many designs by a factor of 20. The power consumption of RF transceivers is also reduced by more than 70%. These benefits make Arctic a key enabler on the 5G small cell market.
With the technology landscape evolving, mobile operators and service providers need to remain agile while extending coverage in all locations and geographical areas. Outdoor small cells with higher capacity help network operators to establish connections in areas where deployment of macrocells is economically not justified. This can include remote or less populated areas as well as regions where cable or fiber installations to homes and enterprises are not simply viable. In these scenarios small cells fill the gap by supporting both mobile users as well as fixed wireless access to subscribers within buildings and enterprises.
On the other hand, 5G small cells are essential in boosting network capacity and improving coverage in dense and crowded areas. Generally, there are limitations in terms of coverage when it comes to highly populated urban zones and without small cells even the most robust cellular networks encounter capacity and coverage issues. Small cells also allow network operators to derive more value from their existing spectrums by exploiting them more efficiently.
5G small cells are very challenging and complex to design and develop. They need to be smaller and lighter while supporting bandwidths such as 100MHz and 200MHz (up to 10 times more than 4G LTE). Arctic Semiconductor offers RF products that support the wide bandwidth requirement of 5G applications while supporting throughputs higher than 1Gbps, which heavily depends on the performance of the RF transceiver. All this is possible with the cost-effective, fully integrated RF chipsets of Arctic.