Heterogeneous networks are an evolved network topology that improves spectral efficiency in a geographic area using a combination of macro-cells, pico-cells, femto-cells and relay nodes. What does that mean in practical terms? It means carriers get greater network efficiencies and end-users get the benefit of high performing mobile devices. Technologies such as inter-cell interference coordination (ICIC), load balancing, cell expansion, advanced handover signaling and access control enable efficient heterogeneous network deployments. Deployment of optimized heterogeneous networks dramatically increases network capacity.

Backhaul Signaling Means Greater Network Efficiency

Xn signaling protocol adds a new interface to 5G radio access networks. In 5G, the Xn signaling protocol enhances inter-cell interference coordination and load balancing. Base stations can dynamically exchange load, power and scheduling information to increase spectral efficiency.

More Stable Connections & Happier End Users

LTE/5G allows base stations to operate with the same frequency channels in overlapping coverage areas causing interference. Enhanced Inter Cell Interference Coordination (eICIC) allows multiple base stations to share the frequency channels. This advanced interference management capability achieves higher spectral efficiency and increases connection reliability. When end-users have more reliable connections, customer satisfaction goes up and the entire supply chain thrives.

Access Control and Handover Enable Seamless Service

Small femto-cells (Home eNBs) are typically associated with uncoordinated large scale deployments for private and public use. Personalized access control may be used to limit access to these small femto-cells (Closed Subscriber Group). Handover algorithms (including proximity reports) provide a controlled approach to transferring handsets between closely located cells enabling the smooth migration of smaller cells into large networks.

Femto-cell Range Expansion Improves Load Balancing

A large disparity between the transmit power of femto and macro cells can result in a smaller coverage area for femto cells. Macro cells attract a higher number of subscribers and result in uneven traffic distributed among cells. Femtocell range expansion with dynamic ICIC minimizes interference and intelligently distributes the load among femto, pico, and macro cells.


The proliferation of heterogeneous access networks offers opportunities to enhance network utilization and performance. Access Traffic Steering, Switching, and Splitting (ATSSS) realizes multi access PDU sessions to improve end-user device performance, load balancing of network, connectivity and continuity of session. Multi access PDU sessions utilize heterogeneous access networks such as fixed, 3GPP Access, Non-3GPP Access, and satellite access.