Get Ready for 5G With an Indoor Small Cell Solution

You’ve been hearing it for months: 5G is coming. But knowing that 5G is the next big thing in wireless isn’t enough. In the meantime, you should be taking steps to ensure your system is ready to get up and running as soon as 5G is available

One thing you can do to prepare is make sure all your equipment can be easily upgraded to support 5G. To reap all the 5G benefits—lower latency, higher data rates, ultra-high reliability, longer battery life and more connected devices—you’ll need a dense, fiber-rich network infrastructure. So it makes sense that we’re seeing a rise in indoor small cell deployments, which are built on an all-fiber network.

Video: Is an Indoor Small Cell System Right for Your Building?

With an indoor small cell solution, the antennas are devices that act as small cellular access points, providing cost-effective cellular coverage for a single carrier within a building. Whereas older systems commonly use corrugated coax, which is expensive and difficult to install, the all-fiber network infrastructure used by small cells is not only more affordable, but also has a much shorter installation time. Furthermore, more people are trained in fiber versus coax and small cell systems are easily managed by IT personnel after installation.

At the very least, your network should be built on Category 6A cable, or a hybrid of Category 6A and fiber. Since a small cell system can only support one carrier network, environments that need to support multiple carriers, such as education and healthcare campuses where there is little to no control over devices, are deploying distributed antenna systems (DAS) that use a combination of fiber and Category 6A cable. A distributed antenna system (DAS) is a set of interconnected antennas driven by active electronics sitting typically in the IDF (intermediate distribution frame—telecom room) and MDF (main distribution frame—telecom room). A DAS allows for coverage within a building from multiple carriers without having to deploy multiple systems.

You can view the different system layouts for a small cell system and a distributed antenna system in the diagrams below.

Anixter Small Cell System Conceptual Layout
Anixter DAS System Conceptual Layout

Upgrading your coax network infrastructure to fiber or Cat 6A will make for an easier transition when 5G is rolled out. Click here for more information on wireless solutions.