With every new smartphone and every new tablet, potential problems escalate for network providers. They need to keep their mobile communication networks in top shape, otherwise customers could very well drown in data bottlenecks – as they themselves could in prohibitive power costs.
“Digitalization of all economic sectors greatly depends on the industry’s willingness to invest,” says Bernd Stahl, who works for network specialist Nash Technologies. “The digitalization of all private and business processes is a megatrend that opens up huge opportunities for innovation and growth.” ??
Hardly a day goes by without a device manufacturer announcing a new product to be launched at the upcoming Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. In Germany alone, more than 20 million people already have a smartphone, and the trend is growing.
“The industry is currently facing three major challenges. On the one hand, network providers have to reduce their energy costs. Also, coverage has to be extended to address more rural areas. And finally, frequency ranges also have to be increased, if market needs are to be covered,” says Stahl.
Energy costs arise for the most part through the base stations, which currently remain greatly responsible for supply. Stahl adds, “The stations, which are often installed in high buildings or on their own masts, cover wide areas. For them to function sufficiently on the edges of these areas, performance at their center automatically needs to be excessively high. This draws the balance downwards.” Moreover, high costs arise through locations that are either rented or purchased.
A considerably more high-performance and cost-efficient solution is available through femtocells.
“The radio cells can be used where there is a high concentration of people – at hotspots in urban centers for instance,” Stahl explains. “They can deliver in a highly targeted way rather than by providing widespread coverage.”
For example, football stadiums or shopping centers can be equipped with their own radio cells. As well, they enable more cost-efficient coverage in rural areas. ??The reliability factor also is extremely important in the mobile Internet. No one can afford to have their networks malfunction or break down due to overloading or unexpected events, he says. This is even more important in view of the fast-rising numbers of mobile users and their increased need for bandwidth due to innovative Internet services. Femtocells are no exception; they carry their own set of challenges.
“Femtocells and small cells create the technological infrastructure for the ongoing development of entire economic sectors,” Stahl comments. “The degree of digitalization in certain industries can be as low as 30 to 45 percent. With digitalization, we are referring to communication, closeness to suppliers, process chains and delivery to end-customers – and not only straightforward LTE access.” ?
He concludes, “The trend is crystal clear: what can be digitalized will be digitalized.”