Small Cell Forum and 5G Americas whitepaper points to AI & ML for network planning

A new white paper from the Small Cell Forum (SCF) and 5G Americas explores the process of precision planning for small cell sites.

‘Precision Planning for 5G Era Networks with Small Cells’ was created by teams at the two industry associations and includes contributions from AT&T, iBwave, Keima and Nokia. It identifies using Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in network design to help reduce the cost of deployments while improving coverage over traditional manual methods.

The ever-increasing demand for mobile data is driving network densification with the deployment of small cells. Small cells have a lower cost than macro towers, but their compact, low-power nature means they also serve a smaller area. This in turn means they need to be located closer to demand hotspots in order to effectively cover the mobile data demands of customers.

The white paper includes an example of how AI and algorithmic ML automated design processes can provide coverage and dominance while reducing the number of sites required. It demonstrates how Manhattan, New York can reduce the number of sites required from 185 to 111, with little impact on the coverage achieved. This 40 per cent reduction provided significant savings while expanding coverage.

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