Multiple cell site strategies needed to support fragmenting architectures

As operators start to prepare their networks for significant increases in capacity demand and densification, they need more of everything – spectrum, equipment and of course sites. One of the most important considerations, as MNOs consider radical changes in network architecture, is how that will affect their cell sites. According to whether they place most emphasis on enhancing macrocells with techniques like Massive MIMO; on dense small cell networks; on distributed antenna systems (DAS); or on Cloud-RAN, they will have very different site requirements, some of them easier to achieve than others.

The new architectures will make it necessary for operators to work with new partners, such as local authorities and utilities, as well as deciding whether to invest in locations themselves or rely on ‘as-a-service’ approaches. And the changes will, of course, also have profound implications for tower operators, at a time when many MNOs are moving away from owning their own sites, and the independent tower provider is on the rise.

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