Demand for wireless network data services is driven primarily by three factors:
- Device availability so subscribers can consume data
- Service availability for bandwidth intense applications (e.g. Streaming YouTube)
- Flat-rate data plans which makes consumers willing to use their device without the fear of seeing their wireless phone bill get out of control
To deliver these services wireless operators have grown their capacity and used more efficient technologies like HSPA+ or LTE. In any case, the Shannon limit does apply and it comes to a point where a geometric increase in capacity implies a re-thinking of the network architecture such that the site offering service can be geographically close to the demand and where cells are smaller and smaller. In effect, the geometric increase in data capacity is a strong driver for what is typically referred to as “small cells”. With broadband wireless services, the demand will largely be indoor (by approximately one order magnitude more than outdoor). This will further drive the demand for femtocells and indoor cells but operators must be able to understand the economic and technical impact of these solutions.