Study on Small Cells and Dense Cellular Networks Regulatory Issues

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Study Background and Motivation

Mobile network operators in Europe and other regions are compelled to deploy large number of small cells to alleviate network capacity shortages, particularly in locations that are experiencing a surge in data traffic volume generated per unit area.  Furthermore, the commercial deployment of 5G networks operating at mid and high bands will further drive the need for network densification through small cell deployment, to enable operators to effectively translate the value of 5G upgrades and its inherent features (e.g. mobile edge computing, network slicing etc.) to subscribers and industry verticals. 

A snapshot of recent analyst reports project that new small cell deployments over the next five years, or so, will be increasingly dominated by dense or hyperdense small cell deployments (with over 150 sites/km2) as operators target 4G capacity upgrades and 5G rollouts in urban and enterprise environments. The continued sustainability of these dense deployment trends requires overcoming a number of challenges, including, but not limited to: backhauling, interference management and regulatory barriers to network densification. 

The project has conducted a study on deployment and regulatory aspects to help EU and its member states identify the most effective way to lower the costs of deploying small cells and dense cellular networks. The study includes an overview of current and future small cell deployment trends as well as, various considerations for small cell deployments to further the understanding of the potential regulatory barriers to dense deployment.
The regulatory factors influencing dense small cell deployments are analysed, whilst taking into consideration the perspective of different stakeholders and highlighting potential areas of regulatory interventions to facilitate deployment. Specifically the analysis focuses on four key factors: general definition or classification small cells; regulatory implications on sharing of small cells; radio frequency electromagnetic field (RF-EMF) exposure limits; and approvals, licensing and permits for small cell deployments. 

Click here to read the Preliminary Report on Small Cells.



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