AT&T Growing an Intelligent Network by Going Small

AT&T is now using a new planning tool to help it smooth out its small cell deployment.

John Donovan, senior executive vice president at AT&T technology and network operations, wrote about the HetNet Analysis and Resource Planning (HARP) tool on the AT&T blog Friday. It is, he writes, a tool created by AT&T Labs to analyze radio waves in order to determine the best positions for the tiny base stations to optimize coverage:

Analyzing key data points, HARP helps us understand how radio frequency (RF) waves move and work in a small cell environment. It identifies where small cells should be placed and recommends a backhaul solution — all with the goal of delivering an optimal customer experience and maximizing capacity and coverage.

Donovan notes that the operator has already been using the tool in the field. For instance, HARP has been put to use at a high-rise small cell deployment in Chicago:

At a high-rise building in Chicago, we deployed more than 10 small cells across three floors to boost coverage and capacity for a customer. Since then, mobile traffic on our network at that location has increased significantly per hour. Best of all, the small cells have successfully boosted the indoor area to nearly 100 percent usable coverage.

AT&T has started its small cell deployment with 3G base stations. It intends to move to “multi-mode” units that can spit out 4G LTE, 3G HSPA+, and WiFi over time.

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