AT&T is constantly fighting to improve bandwidth on its overcrowded network. To combat problematic issues with the network AT&T is testing Small Cells.
The small cell test increased traffic by
17 percent and boosted outdoor areas to nearly 100 percent
In some areas the Small Cells gave the area almost 100 percent coverage and virtually
eliminated dropped calls. AT&T did not, however, specify what
happened to download speeds after small cells added all those users to
Procuring additional spectrum bands is one way networks expand
capacity, but in places with high population densities or difficult
geographies, coverage can still be an issue. For this, networks like
AT&T, Sprint and Verizon are beginning to deploy small cells.
aren’t just one piece of hardware technology, but rather a collective
term for cellular coverage solutions that target smaller geographical
areas and numbers of people. A device that’s 250 mW, for example — which
is fairly low power — can support up to 32 users and cover the area of a
large building. But small cells are available at a number of power
levels, so a 5 W one could support 200 users and cover hundreds of
square meters, or a 1 W one could be targeted at 10 meters of subway
entrance and cover 64 to 128 concurrent users.
A traditional cell tower generally covers a 1.5 km area (although in
somewhere flat and rural, like the desert, a tower could cover a 10 km
area) and ideally may only have 80 to 90 people on the network at one
time. More than that, and bandwidth starts coming down, calls start
getting dropped, and users get frustrated.
All the major carriers, including AT&T, are rolling out their
small cell technologies over the next few years. Unlike the seemingly
random roll out of 3G and then 4G LTE networks across the nation, small
cells should start popping up in areas with the most problematic