Wireless network operators are under increasing pressure to provide more capacity, coverage and quality – all without increasing end-user prices. This is an international phenomenon.
The key to managing this successfully in 2015 is efficiency, said Derick Roberts, CEO of TruTeq Devices, a company which provides wireless solutions to a wide range of markets.
Roberts says operators are primed to update and modernize their networks and upgrade to LTE while working on “more efficient future architectures”.
Additionally, they will find further increased capacity in their networks through cell splitting, the creation of a metro layer, and continued focus on deploying the indoor coverage layer. Where there is quality, there is going to be capacity – or it needs to be there.
One of the biggest developments of 2015, and 2016, is LTE, or 4G, the latest evolution of commercial cellular systems. It boasts the greatest spectral efficiency to date. And it is on the move. Cellular providers in South Africa are spending billions of rands rolling out the new 4G/LTE infrastructures.
Companies will be looking at efficiency improvements – not just limited to spectrum, but plans that benefit the ecosystem as a whole.
To service customers with more data for the same price, each and every portion of the infrastructure must be evaluated, negotiated, calculated and optimised, says Roberts.
Cloud computing is also on the near horizon. There are both near- and far-term goals. Currently, one of the biggest long term benefits may come from Cloud RAN (C-RAN) or Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), as it is also currently known, says Roberts.
Efficiency will come from the use of  standardised off-the-shelf hardware and the virtualisation of software.
Roberts adds that, depending on how far virtualisation is moved on to the network, some – if not all – of the call processing can be moved to today’s special purpose-made hardware.
He adds that improving spectrum usage isn’t just limited to changes in standards. Capacity on a cellular network comes from the re-use of spectrum as well as efficiency.
“The market for LTE is going to get massive and tight,” says Roberts. “Billions of rands are being spent, currently, in roll-outs – with an ongoing attempt to keep prices competitive. It is a war.”