For the first time ever, worldwide mobile subscription has exceeded the total human population of 7.3 billion in the last quarter of 2015. Though this includes duplicate users, it is still an astonishing feat. In addition to this, the number of LTE subscription also reached 1 billion for the first time. Humankind has indeed entered an era of digital evolution, and this is just the beginning.
The next level of network 5G is to rollout soon, mobile operators must be equipped and ready to deal with the new technology. Recent news of network failures from top global networks across UK and Australia, shows that even the best in the business can sometimes struggle. With the entire world depending on their services, it is now upto operators to excel and learn to cope with the ever growing demand for mobile services. For starters, a fresher and newer approach must be taken for network planning to handle the requirements of high frequency 5G waves and its infrastructure. With the increasing complexity of the technology, increasing efforts must be added to ensure zero downtime or disruption for the billions of users.
The increased number of subscriptions is not the only challenge to overcome. Capacity is going to be one of the most major factor in the coming years due to the increase in data consumption. High end devices, VR, Augmented Reality are just at the brink of mass expansion, and for these and more, mobile operators must be able to deliver large amount of data with efficiency and speed like never before. The problem is that the macro base stations (BTS) alone will not be able to meet the needs of 5G. Instead, a legacy cell that was previously designed to provide voice services at lower frequency bands will need to provide new 5G services over a smaller area. This will create gaps in the macro network and hamper the coverage, especially in dense urban areas where buildings can interfere with the signal. To overcome weak signals and to match the high frequency need of 5G, large scale investment and network planning is essential.
If operators are to maintain and improve mobile services, perhaps the best option would be to consider using small cell architecture, such as distributed antenna systems (DAS), to provide network coverage over a certain area. A DAS solution, either indoor or outdoor, can provide focused coverage and capacity with easily deployable units that can support multiple frequencies and wireless services. A DAS is also extremely efficient at distributing wireless signal sources across multiple endpoints, share networks and overall reduces dependency of hardwares and maintenance. Due to the close proximity of the DAS antennas/ amplifiers with the user, it can guarantee and strong signal that would otherwise be coming from a tower miles away. Ultimately, DAS can be the solution to some if not all of the issues coming into light in the new era. Mobile operator can focus on building small cell architecture instead of setting up large macro cells sites and towers. With the need of each user growing by the day, it is time that operators looked into providing them with more smaller scale and individualised network coverage.
5G can open new doors for everyone all around the world. It is upto operators to take use of this amazing technology and create the best infrastructure to support and grow it. Network failures are no longer an option and the world cannot be held back just because connection wasn’t good enough.