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.
X2 signaling protocol adds a new interface to LTE radio access networks. In LTE-Advanced, the X2 signaling protocol enhances inter-cell interference coordination and load balancing. Base stations can now dynamically exchange load, power and scheduling information to increase spectral efficiency.
LTE allows all 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.
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.
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.
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