Sprint Small Cells (Not Small Cells) December 27, 2012 09:57

Sprint Small Cells - Light Reading

Above is a link to a Light Reading interview with Sprint VP of Network Development and Engineering Iyad Tarazi. The hot topic in wireless is small cells.  Clearly the carriers are blurring the definitions of small cells to demonstrate that they have a large installed base or are significantly down the road for new network installations.  From Iyad's interview, Sprint has over 500,000 femto cells providing primarily indoor coverage enhancements to customer residences.  These are using the customer's broadband service for connectivity and do not support handover of voice or data calls.  (Calls drop as you leave home and need to be re-originated on the carrier network.  Iyad describes the small cell developments for their LTE coverage.  It is not stated, but it is likely that this development is only for their PCS G frequency block, not Clearwires forthcoming LTE.  In addition, I would challenge whether they meet the definition for small cells.  Sprint is continuing down the path of a non-network integrated coverage device.  Whether installed in a small business or a residence, the products Iyad described are not integrated with Sprint's macro network, do not provide interference protection to that network, and will not hand over voice or data calls over without dropping the connections.  This is really no improvement to providing WiFi coverage and is deceptive to include in the small cell discussion where a prerequisite should be to provide seamless integration with the macro network.  What Sprint has solved for their version of the "small cell" is the impact of providing cost effective backhaul connectivity to the small cell.  In all of the cases that Sprint has developed a "small cell" product, they are utilizing the customers backhaul facility for connectivity.  To get true integration with their carrier/macro network, Sprint will need to provide and pay for backhaul to their facilities for small cells.