The world’s first Small Cell Industry Alliance came into being in Indonesia on September 16, 2015. Marking an industry milestone, this government-led alliance will integrate industry resources, develop corresponding standards, and boost progress by crowdsourcing.
With a population of nearly 257 million, Indonesia is the fourth most populace place on earth. It’s also a relatively young nation, with 70 percent of Indonesians yet to celebrate their 34th birthday. This youthful demographic provides strong impetus for the country’s rapid ICT development, which in turn creates jobs and improves people’s lives.
Increased smartphone ubiquity has doubled Indonesia’s mobile data traffic over the past two years, heaping pressure on carriers. They urgently need broader and faster network pipes to offer more services, offload huge data traffic volumes, and support the construction of digital cities.
Mobile digital cities require ubiquitous network coverage and a high-speed mobile data experience, the path to which is a complex marriage of challenge and opportunity. This is especially true for hotspot areas such as sports stadiums, airports, train stations, and CBDs.
Ovum reports that small cells represent the best solution for mobile digital development, especially where equipment rooms are scarce and network congestion is common during busy hours. Power friendly and easy to deploy, the diminutive size of small cells belies their large capacity. For carriers, they are the best way to improve network coverage, boost capacity, and enhance user experience.
Deployment, however, is no cakewalk. First, few policies and regulations for small cells exist. Indoor coverage in large buildings, for example, is complicated by a lack of infrastructure. It is also difficult to obtain either the licenses or space for site construction. The second, and arguably most serious challenge, involves balancing the gains and losses of both shop owners and carriers when it comes to small cell deployment. Third, the industry is inhibited by a lack of industry standards. The key to sustainable development in the small cell industry rests with formulating MBB standards that are based on user experience, regulating the development of small cell technologies, and guiding investment.
To respond to these challenges, the Ministry of Information and Communications of Indonesia (MICI) proposed the Small Cell Alliance. As a leading ICT solutions provider and active player in Indonesia, Huawei took a founding role in the alliance – the first of its kind in the world. Other stakeholders include MICI, the National Telecommunications Standard Institute of Indonesia, and various ICT industry organizations. The Small Cell Alliance has also attracted more than 70 member companies and organizations, including Telkomsel, Telkom, XL, Ericsson, Alcatel Lucent, Mastel, and a slew of property management companies, real estate developers, universities, and media and consulting firms.
MICI hopes that the alliance will integrate resources across the industry chain and contribute to the success of the small cell industry and its players. Dr. Muhammad Budi Setiawan, MICI deputy minister, outlined the importance of mobile communications to Indonesians and the national economy: “Every 1 percent increase in the home broadband penetration rate will lower unemployment by 8.6 percent.”
The Indonesian Small Cell Industry Alliance is highly regarded by local regulatory authorities, with the Indonesian government aiming to regulate the industry and pave the way for mobile broadband deployment. Planned policies include reserving pipes and cabling resources for small cells.
The Indonesian Small Cell Industry Alliance is committed to creating indoor MBB standards, and developing and promoting an authoritative certification system.
In turn, carriers must upgrade their indoor coverage systems. From 2G to 3G to LTE, indoor coverage has long hampered mobile communications, despite its importance for monetizing traffic and optimizing user experience. For example, 70 percent of voice and 90 percent of data services occur indoors, and 80 percent of high-value customers work indoors. Although the indoor coverage area is just 20 percent of the total wireless coverage area, it generates 80 percent of earnings for carriers.
Indoor traffic hotspots cluster in places like transportation hubs, shopping malls, stadiums, and office buildings. Different traffic hotspots bear different service characteristics, while shop owners have varied service requirements. Silea Polono, director of the digital marketing dept of the Jakarta International Expo Center, explained the scope of the center’s activities: “Our expo center hosts an average of 200 large-scale events every year, including exhibitions, music festivals, and holiday celebrations. These events involve online processes such as registering admissions, locating venues, introducing exhibits, making online transactions, and sharing.” To meet the needs of the expo center, Polono concluded that, “We urgently need an intelligent indoor mobile solution to enhance the communication experience for visitors.”
The industry alliance will explore how to benefit shop owners through the coordinated deployment of multiple indoor solutions such as indoor macro cells, distributed antenna systems (DAS), and LampSite solutions. The alliance is also responsible for identifying traffic hotspots to help local business owners improve customer experience and encourage carriers and business owners to upgrade their network infrastructure.
The deployment of small cells solves the problem of indoor coverage and creates new business models. Members of a small cell industry alliance can include governments, carriers, ICT vendors, property owners, and media companies. An alliance enables all parties to succeed by working together and sharing resources, which boosts the development of the small cell industry as a whole.
There are already successful examples of site cooperation in China. An intelligent streetlamp solution started life as a crowdsourcing scheme developed by China Mobile, electric power, an ad company, and Huawei. The scheme involves equipping each streetlamp with an LED light, small cell, and LCD touch screen. In Shanghai the transformation of more than 30,000 streetlamps indicates that small cell crowdsourcing is highly useful, and that small cells can help build smart cities. Huawei has also collaborated with the world’s biggest outdoor advertiser, JCDecaux, to run nearly 1,000 small cells on billboards for Vodafone.
Small cell solutions have also been applied in the enterprise market. In March 2015, Baidu teamed up with China Unicom, Huawei, and Easyhome to build smart shopping malls. To provide an indoor map service for Easyhome shops, Baidu Maps shows the location of each, and ranks them on popularity. It also displays new product ads and special offers. Based on Huawei’s Service Anchor platform, the app also performs indoor headcounts and big data analysis, serving both Internet companies and app developers.
Su Guangfu, Director of Baidu’s LBS Commercial Cooperation Dept, spoke on the benefits of the partnership: “Baidu Maps is exploring the international market. The powerful combination of Baidu, operators, and Huawei applies our respective strengths. Exploring large-scale, high-value, and high-traffic indoor scenarios allows us to upgrade our indoor location-based service (LBS), provide a wide range of indoor coverage services and big data services, and optimize user experience.”
Establishing the world’s first Small Cell Industry Alliance marks a milestone for the industry. The alliance will help integrate industry resources, formulate industry standards, boost the small cell industry in Indonesia by crowdsourcing, and inspire further alliances across the globe.
Multiple Indonesian carriers have already deployed innovative small cell solutions from Huawei, including LampSite and AtomCell, furthering mobile broadband construction in Indonesia and also the National Broadband Strategy.
Zhou Yuefeng, President of Huawei’s Small Cell Product Line, believes that, “The rapid development of the mobile broadband market poses tremendous challenges as well as huge opportunities.” According to Zhou, the potential is huge: “The market space for small and micro cells is growing. Huawei estimates that the market will be worth US$20 billion over the next five years, which will require tens of millions of small and micro cells. Micro cells will become a new engine that drives the wireless market’s future growth.”
In collaboration with industry partners across the globe, Huawei is ensuring that the small cell industry continues to make a big noise.