Nokia: Drones Can Be Used to Deploy Small Cells

Nokia says it has developed a way to deploy small cells by using drones to place portable, solar-powered units on rooftops.

Nokia has developed small cells called F-cells that will be deployed closer together (densification) than today’s cell towers. They are wirelessly connected to MIMO (multiple input multiple output) backhaul systems that have 64-antennae, with each system producing eight beams to eight solar-powered F-Cells, which substantially reduces latency. Nokia’s recently acquired Bell Labs developed the technology, which is capable of 1 Gbps over existing LTE networks.

One question that cellcos have is how to deploy the hundreds of small cells that will be needed for 5G – small cells also work with the existing LTE cell technology.

Nokia says it has developed a way to deploy small cells by using drones to place portable, solar-powered units on rooftops. It showed the solution last week in California. The method reduces the cost and time it takes to install fiber and electrical cables and eliminates the need for getting planning permissions. Nokia intends to find a way to secure the units because they could be damaged or removed by adverse weather conditions or by people.

The closely-installed F-Cells can be connected via the backhaul system to the Net via either fiber or over copperwires (or by microwave transmissions). Nokia says XG-Fast copperwire broadband technology, which it has already installed in tests) has reached speeds of 10 Gbps over existing copperwires. Nokia is also developing XG-Cable, which works over the coax that cablecos typically use, which is said to be capable of 10 Gbps symmetrical speeds using full duplex DOCSIS 3.1 technology. However, XG-Cable may be a number of years away. Existing copperwires or coax would be used where fiber is either not already installed or where its installation is not feasible.

Drones could also be used to deploy cells temporarily such as at sports and other one-off public events but probably not stadiums or arenas where cellcos might want to permanently mount cells.

Marcus Weldon, president of Nokia Bell Labs and Nokia CTO, said, “F-Cell is a key breakthrough in massively scalable and massively deployable technology that will allow networks to deliver seemingly infinite capacity, imperceptible latency and connectivity to trillions of things. Nokia Bell Labs is again excited to re-invent the future and help drive what we believe will be a technological revolution, underpinned by the creation of a new digital network fabric that will transform human existence.”

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