Small Cells are Key to Attracting and Keeping SMB and Large Enterprise Customers

Next Generation Communications Blog

Small Cells are Key to Attracting and Keeping SMB and Large Enterprise Customers

By: Peter Bernstein, TMCnet Senior Editor

To say that operators of macro-cellular physical networks are facing all type of challenges these days would be an understatement.  These range from spectrum scarcity issues, competitive pricing pressures, the need to build out LTE networks ASAP as platforms for new services and to meet the insatiable appetite of users for things like streamed and real-time video, getting ready for the Internet of Things (IoT) etc.  They also are busy figuring out how to keep users, particularly enterprise users on their smart devices always and all ways on their networks in an increasingly fickle world where alternatives abound, including for value-added traffic lost to Over-the-Top (OTT) providers.  

It is to keep enterprise customers on the mobile service provider networks for enhanced services that good in-building wireless solutions are seen as both a powerful business tool and a competitive advantage.  This is particularly true when it comes to retaining small-to-medium business customers (SMBs).

This is an observation, driven home well in a recent TechZine posting by Tristan Barraud de Lagerie, Product Marketing Manager, Small Cells, Alcatel-Lucent (ALU), Field insights: Small cells retain enterprise customers. As he points out, ALU research has shown that more than 87 percent of enterprises are likely to switch to operators that guarantee good performance, but Alcatel-Lucent research found. He adds that, “Until recently, very few wireless solutions have been dedicated to meeting small enterprise needs. Not even in France and the U.K., where SMEs make up 99.8 percent of all businesses — and employ more than half of the workforce (51 percent in France, 59.3 percent in the UK.”


Source: Alcatel-Lucent

Small cells to the rescue—a five step approach for success

The good news for mobile operators is that small cells can give them the in-building coverage and quality of service they need to prevent churn and provide quality customer experiences.  In fact, Barraud de Lagerie outlines five step approach to achieve success which have been applied successfully at thousands of small enterprises in France and the U.K. The five steps include:

  1. Simply Identify the Need: The operators’ account managers determine when small cells should be offered to an enterprise. The solution can be used to resolve a specific problem or enhance existing service levels.
  2. Determine How Many Cells are Needed: The number of small cells needed for each enterprise will vary, based on RF conditions, availability of backhaul, the size of the installation, the number of users and other factors. Coverage is the most critical. Each small cell for the enterprise can cover about 1000 square meters, and multiple cells can be grouped to expand the coverage.
  3. Keep Installation Clear and Simple:  To streamline installation, operators leverage the small cells’ ability to share the existing backhaul and Ethernet cabling in enterprise buildings.
  4. Automate Provisioning:  Each operator uses its own system-provisioning tools. They enter the femto serial number and the customer’s enterprise address where the cell will be located. The rest is automatic, and service initiation can take minutes.
  5. Maintain Satisfying Performance: Assure continued customer satisfaction by staying engaged with things like direct support lines to the operator’s corporate department, constant KPI monitoring and rapid repairs should things go wrong.

The goal is simple, small cell deployments can be and should be positioned as a win/win for the operator and for enterprise customers.  This is especially important for attracting and keeping SMBs customers as in-building gives the operators the ability to quickly and cost-effectively introduce new services like high-quality voice over LTE (VoLTE). And next-generation multi-standard (3G/4G/Wi-Fi) small cells make it easier to migrate to new services, and support always-on and all ways connections for the exploding and diverse population of wireless devices and their increased use as the communications platform of preference for all enterprise communications. 

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