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3GPP LTE, or Long Term Evolution, the fourth generation wireless access technology, is being rolled out by many operators worldwide. Since LTE Release 10, network densification using small cells has been an important evolution direction in 3GPP to provide the necessary means to accommodate the anticipated huge traffic growth, especially for hotspot areas. Recently, LTE Release 12 has been started with more focus on small cell enhancements. This article provides the design principles and introduces the ongoing discussions on small cell enhancements in LTE Release 12, and provides views from two active operators in this area, CMCC and NTT DOCOMO.
Date of Publication: February 2013