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Macro and Small Cell/Wi-Fi Networks: An Analysis of Deployment Options as the Solution for the Mobile Data Explosion



With the tremendous growth in mobile data traffic triggered by increases in data subscriptions, powerful devices, and richer applications, operators are seeing Wi-Fi as not only a complementary technology to offload cellular data traffic but also as a seamless extension of their mobile networks. The advent of Hotspot 2.0, enhanced Wi-Fi quality of service (QoS) techniques, and transparent authentication mechanisms between mobile and Wi-Fi networks will pave the way for seamless mobility and roaming between these two technologies and provide a better quality of experience to the end user. With web-based applications like Skype, Google Talk, and WhatsApp becoming mainstream media for communication, operators are looking at the combination of licensed band and Wi-Fi technologies to meet capacity demands. This paper discusses the evolution of basic network Wi-Fi -based hotspots to become the trusted partner of mobile operators. We present architectures and required features for data offload and seamless mobility and provide an in-depth techno-economic analysis comparing various deployment alternatives for data offload in a heterogeneous network. © 2013 Alcatel-Lucent.