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June 27, 2012

The Rise of the HetNets

Today’s mobile tower grids are evolving into dense, high-capacity and multi-layered networks. While it’s easy to think that these networks are the technology of the future, many argue that the infrastructure is already in place for these heterogeneous networks, or HetNets.

Think of HetNets as three-layered structures made from an amalgamation of cellular and Wi-Fi. The first layer comprises mobile broadband, while the second layer is the network of small cells that provides extra bandwidth where it is needed most.

Linking those elements together will be the third layer, or network intelligence, that will allow Wi-Fi hotspots to be managed like cells and will allow both metro and microcells to integrate into network hierarchies without disrupting the major grid. Wi-Fi, femtocells, pico and micro cells will be deployed in different configurations and in different stages. However, these will eventually come together to form the whole, which will be HetNets.

Some companies are anticipating the rise of HetNets. Maxim Integrated Products, for instance, has recently released solutions including single-chip multiband radio transceivers, broadband gain blocks, direct RF synthesis DACs, and intelligent, digital, point-of-load controllers.

“Maxim is in a unique position,” says Communications Solutions Group Managing director, Vickram Vathulya. “We are leveraging our experience in IC integration to deliver disruptive high-performance technologies and differentiated solutions for a successful HetNet rollout.”

The main drivers of the HetNet are customer demand and customer expectations of speed. Put together, the 3G/4G wireless infrastructure elements will deliver both the high mobility and the high quality of service that customers have grown to expect from their networks. As mobile media and data consumption rises exponentially, solutions like those from Maxim will be required to create the network of the future.

Frank Rayal, BLiNQ Networks’ VP of Product Management, writes that the greatest challenge facing the HetNet is figuring out how to backhaul small cell base stations in a cost-effective manner.

“Solving this challenge will surely require much ingenuity specifically because any solution must meet very low cost constraints,” writes Rayal. “If we can’t solve the cost challenge, HetNets will not get much traction.”

For its part, Maxim is offering solutions that combine dense analog integration with high dynamic performance, high reliability and low power consumption. Its analog and mixed-signal base-station solutions support the main cellular radio access network signal paths, the power conversion nodes and the baseband processing demands of the HetNet.

Want to learn more about today’s powerful mobile Internet ecosystem? Then be sure to attend the Mobility Tech Conference & Expo, collocated with ITEXPO West 2012 taking place Oct. 2-5 2012, in Austin, TX. Co-sponsored by TMC Partner Crossfire Media the Mobility Tech Conference & Expo provides unmatched networking opportunities and a robust conference program representing the mobile ecosystem. The conference not only brings together the best and brightest in the wireless industry, it actually spans the communications and technology industry. For more information on registering for the Mobility Tech Conference & Expo click here.

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Edited by Brooke Neuman

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