Small cell antennas
Traditionally, mobile networks are based on macrocells, the large cell sites you often see on the roofs of buldings. One of the key elements of a future 5G network would be the introduction of a range of smaller antennas, which could be attached to lamp posts, building walls, bus stops, or even on the undersides of manhole covers.
We would therefore have a denser network of antennas placed closer to the user. These antennas could then handle higher data demands from users and would be better suited for low-range mmWaves.
5G will most likely be initially deployed on macrocells, but over the timespan of a few years, small cells will start becoming an important addition to mobile networks.
The increasing cost of small cell construction might force mobile operators to cooperate more. Instead of building parallel networks, they would share certain antennas and parts of the network, or even give control of the antennas over to a separate company or organisation, known as a neutral host.
IEEE, 2014, The role of small cells, coordinated multipoint, and massive MIMO in 5G
Paglierani, Neokosmidis, Rokkas, Meani, Nasr, Moessner, Khodashenas, 2019, Techno‐economic analysis of 5G immersive media services in cloud‐enabled small cell networks: The neutral host business model
Horizon Magazine, 2019, How 5G could democratise the telecoms industry