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Towards scalable user-deployed ultra-dense networks: Blockchain-enabled small cells as a service

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Publication details

JournalIEEE Communications Magazine
DateAccepted/In press - 28 Mar 2020
DatePublished (current) - 3 Sep 2020
Original languageEnglish


Neutral Host Small Cell Providers (SCP) represent a key element of the 5G vision of ultra-dense mobile networks. However, current business models mostly focus on multi-year agreements for large venues, such as stadiums and hotel chains.
These business agreements are regulated through binding Service Level Agreements (SLAs), which tend to be too cumbersome and costly for smaller scale SCPs. As a result, the neutral host model does not scale up to its full potential. In this paper, we propose a framework to enable the participation of small- to mediumsized players in the cellular market as providers offering network resources to Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). To this purpose, we review the current and emerging spectrum and technology opportunities that SCPs can use for neutral host deployments. We also propose the use of blockchain-enabled smart contracts as a simple and cost-efficient alternative to traditional SLAs for small-scale SCPs. To demonstrate this, we describe a proof of concept implementation of an Ethereum-based smart contract platform for best-effort service between an SCP and an MNO. Our simulations on potential smart contract-based deployments in city centre Dublin show that the received signal strength in the considered area will increase by an average of 10 percent.

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    Research areas

  • Smart contracts, small cell networks, neutral host, blockchain, service level agreement

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