Imagine this scenario: you try to take a picture of your favorite band or singer at a concert or your favorite athlete at a sports event, and upload it to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to show to your friends, and nothing happens. Only after multiple attempts or a long wait does the upload go through, frustrating those at the event.
Here’s the reason why: overburdened networks. Although the solution may seem obvious, setting up more giant cell towers is very expensive, especially here in the Philippines. To add to that stumbling block, they are also seen as aesthetically unpleasing. The problem exists in other areas in the world as well: a study of a Boston Red Sox game showed that the average speed of one carrier at the venue, AT&T, slowed to a dismal crawl during the game because thousands of people were attempting to access the Internet at the same time. Two other carriers, Sprint and Verizon, were practically unusable, with speeds below 100kbps. For those of you who endured the marvel of dial-up Internet, think about those speeds for a second—that fast.
However, a low-cost solution has been in the works: small cells. These essentially have all the functions of a giant cell tower, but take up less space. With current wireless networks, one has to seek out a wireless network with their smartphone or laptop, remember the credentials, and sign in. When small cells are deployed, carriers will automatically sign your devices in to the network. According to Nomura analyst Stuart Jeffrey, small cells will make up 90% of total cell tower deployments by 2015, and reduce the need for giant cell towers.