Conference paper Open Access

Understanding the Present and Future of Cellular Networks through Crowdsourced Traces

Francesco Malandrino; Carla-Fabiana Chiasserini; Scott Kirkpatrick

We focus on today’s LTE systems and use realworld, crowdsourced traces to understand (i) how present-day LTE networks are deployed and to which extent they are suited to the current traffic load; (ii) how well they will withstand the traffic demand forecasted within 2020; (iii) which techniques to improve them should be pursued and how aggressively. To this end, we use two datasets, coming from WeFi and OpenSignal and available under commercial terms. We find that today’s networks are composed of tangled, medium to large-sized cells, characterized by fairly high interference. Also, current networks are typically overprovisioned, but the future traffic load will pose a significant strain on them. To accommodate the forecasted mobile traffic, our study highlights the efficacy of: (i) traffic offloading for pedestrian and stationary users, (ii) increasing the available bandwidth through, e.g., spectrum refarming, (iii) mitigating interference and improving link quality for edge users through coordinated downlink transmissions. By putting in place these actions, only a negligible amount of additional cellular infrastructure will be required. Our results come from the combination of real-world traces, experimental measurements, and ITU-recommended propagation models. Each step we take is backed by real-world facts and data.

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