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Multi-operator and neutral host small cells: Drivers, architectures, planning and regulation

There are powerful market drivers for small cells to be deployed in a multi-operator or neutral host environment, especially when they are in enterprise locations. Increasingly, mobile traffic is concentrated indoors, and locations of all kinds – from office buildings to public spaces such as malls or railway stations – need to support mobile usage, regardless of which operator the employees, customers and visitors are subscribed to. This is only becoming more important as businesses go mobile-first and adopt bring your own device policies. There are already neutral host solutions available and standardized. Distributed antenna systems (DAS) and Wi-Fi are well established in this regard, but have disadvantages for operators and site owners in many environments – the high cost of DAS, for instance, and the QoS challenges of Wi-Fi in public or unmanaged areas.

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