Operators need to consider small cells as enablers of new services, not just a means of filling in coverage and capacity gaps, said ip.access on Tuesday.
At a briefing in London, the small cell maker explained that deployments have traditionally been orchestrated by engineers, but to drive greater value requires input from sales and marketing teams, and even those higher up the pecking order.
"Engineering needs to be balanced with commercial reality," noted ip.access CEO Simon Brown, which "requires direction from the top down," he said.
"Some of the enlightened ones are looking at service-led [small cell] provision," he said, although he declined to name names.
When it comes to the actual services, the obvious examples are those that leverage information about a customer's location. Analytics and marketing firms, and retailers will pay for data like this, Brown said.
In addition, an operator addressing the enterprise small cell market can use them to enhance its managed mobility offering by adding presence services, or improved voice and data services for senior employees, for example.
Using small cells to enable new service revenue streams would help alleviate some of the pain points that come with their deployment, namely the cost of power, site acquisition and rental, and backhaul.
The business case "is sound", said Brown, "but you wouldn't necessarily see that if all you're looking at is the RAN".