3G/4G Small Cells

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Small cell is a rapidly expanding market. This is largely because of the need to offload networks as data demands threaten to overwhelm them, but also to fill indoor and outdoor coverage gaps. In all these cases, there is a critical need for mobile services that are able to detect the presence of, connect to, and interact with existing networks. From femtocells to picocells and microcells, Richardson RFPD offers a wide range of products that are ideal for these applications, including RF amplifiers, switches, mixers, transceivers, bandpass filters, duplexers and data converters.

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Richardson RFPD employs more RF engineers than any global distributor. By offering deep technical expertise to support the latest products from the leading suppliers in RF & Wireless and Energy Technologies, we are uniquely positioned to help customers meet the challenges of changing markets.

Though not standardized, small cells may generally be recognized as low power, wireless access points that transmit less than 10W at the antenna. In practice, small cells can be very diverse. Some operate autonomously while others are either loosely or completely controlled by the network. There are also variations in output power and configuration to allow deployment indoors or out, and for different numbers of connected users. Given this diversity, equipment suppliers have attempted to categorize the available options. These categories have been named microcells, metrocells, picocells, and femtocells. Femtocells are the smallest type of small cell, and the namesake for "femtocell technology."

Although these categories are not well-defined, in general femtocells are used to improve coverage and capacity indoors. Residential femtocells typically have power output of about 20mW and cover a house with a small number of users; such as a family. Enterprise femtocells can be as much as 200mW, with the higher power providing a larger range and number of users; such as a small business or apartment building. Metrocells and picocells typically have power output of 1-10W and target outdoor and urban deployments; including parks, city centers, tunnels, stadiums, and even mass transit systems.

According to ABI Research, outdoor small cell units will grow at 53.8% CAGR to reach 9.3 million units by 2017. The fastest growing small cell class is the outdoor femtocells, which will grow at 81.5% CAGR to reach 1.5 million units and $5.4 billion by 2017.

For more detailed information on this application, please refer to the technical articles and design considerations found in the Technical Resources tab, including:
  Linearity vs. Efficiency for Infrastructure Applications (334KB)

Links to Additional Information
Small Cell Hub - Portal for news, opinions and events relating to small cells.