How Can Cellular Networks Handle 1000x the Data?

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Location: 258 Fitzpatrick Hall

Jeffrey Andrews Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Texas

Cellular telecommunication networks and innovative mobile devices have transformed society by allowing global communication anytime and anywhere. But these networks and devices have become victims of their own success, with demand for data traffic that is soaring more than 100 percent per year, or over 1000x in the next decade.

Faced with supporting this growth, the cellular industry is transitioning from comprehensively planned networks that focus on wide coverage to organically deployed networks that roll out capacity over time where it is needed. The industry is also diversifying equipment offerings with picocells and femtocells that support increasing data rates over shrinking coverage areas compared to traditional macrocells. As a result of this heterogeneity, the resulting networks are more irregular and have been less amenable to modeling, analysis, and design.

This talk describes the forces behind these trends and presents a new framework for understanding the heterogeneous cellular networks of the future. Modeling and analysis of system performance with multi-tier Poisson point processes yields insights that generally agree with actual field deployments and much more complex industry models, and suggest that 1000x improvements may well be within reach.