Today, when deploying small cells within a managed space such as an enterprise office, a shopping mall, or a stadium, the landlord controls access to infrastructure. Visitors to the space will subscribe to many different wireless network providers. Thus, to get uniform cellular coverage for all employees, customers and guests, small cells from all major providers must be deployed in addition to Wi-Fi and other unlicensed access technologies.
Furthermore, 5G mmWave technologies will often be deployed in dense configurations to provide adequate coverage given the Radio Frequency (RF) propagation challenges in mmWave spectrum. Similar to managed space environments noted above, it is likely that all major providers will need to deploy in the same areas. Particularly in outdoor deployments, infrastructure and regulatory constraints may limit the number, and location of cell site placement.
These scenarios represent a high-cost and complex arrangement involving deployment of multiple infrastructures. A potentially more attractive arrangement is to have one common infrastructure system deployed that could be used by all service providers. Thus, a third-party provider (such as an independent access provider, a landlord, or delegate) becomes a neutral (not aligned with any specific provider) host for small cell coverage. This paper examines and analyzes neutral host solutions assessing the technical and logistical implications.