Ultra Sparse Networks – a new technology focus needed to deliver 5G economic viability? By Geoff Varrall, RTT Online

CW TEC Conference



Geoff Varrall shares insight into ultra-sparse networks? Just one of the topics being discussed at this year’s CW TEC Conference in London on the 24th March 2015


The EBITDA of AT and T and Verizon, the two dominant operators in one of the world highest ARPU markets, has reduced over the last two three month reporting periods, following a pattern already established by most other operators in most other markets. This demonstrates that increasing data throughput is presently negatively coupled to gross and net margin. As data rates increase margin goes down.

This is partly due to the support costs associated with network densification and suggests that a new approach may be needed in order to make 5 G investment sustainable.

This includes a shift of focus towards less dense or even ultra-sparse networks.


There are many present examples of ultra-sparse networks including terrestrial broadcasting and LEO, MEO and GSO satellites. These delivery platforms are undergoing profound technology transitions. In terrestrial broadcasting this includes T2 and or ATSC 2.0 and 3.0 channel coding and modulation. In the satellite sector payload based spot beam antennas combined with user device smart antennas are radically improving link budgets enabling high data rate connectivity across ultra-macro cell topologies. The use of smart antenna MIMO systems to achieve data rate and data reach (large cells) should be a compulsory case study for the 5G research community.

GSO operators are integrating L band, S band and KA band systems providing mobile and fixed broadband connectivity at a fraction of the cost of equivalent terrestrial networks. In the US DARPA are developing E band(>70 GHz) LTE compatible macro cell networks with base stations deployed on drones to provide rapid network roll out in combat conditions. Google and Facebook have parallel development in sub space delivery platforms.

What impact will this technology innovation have on 4G and 5G deployment?


Come and listen to technical subject experts from Avanti, EE, BSkyB, Radio Design, IRT Germany, BBC Research, u-blox AG, CSR and Samsung presenting their informed views on these changes, challenges and opportunities.

Come and join us to debate how new technologies are changing the delivery economics of our industry, the impact on coexistence management and associated implications for the regulatory and spectral allocation community and standards making community http://www.cambridgewireless.co.uk/cwtec/

Watch out for the next blog unveiling CW TEC ‘Automotive RF – a car crash waiting to happen?’.


About The Author

Geoff Varrall is Director at RTT Online
Follow on twitter at: @geoffvarrall


Keep the conversation going on Twitter: @CambWireless

Want to find out more about Cambridge Wireless? Visit http://www.cambridgewireless.co.uk/