According to a report by Barclays Equity Research from (Kvaal on Comm, October 23, 2012), small-cells-as-a service could emerge as a customer-solution sooner than anticipated, now that Colt Technology Services has partnered with NEC to begin trialing the technology. Colt's offering is unique in that it plans to offer small cells as a hosted managed service, that will enable mobile operators to easily add their own radio heads onto Virgin's infrastructure, a far more cost effective solution than allowing each operator to build its own small cell infrastructure. According to Colt, this is particularly significant now that Colt and NEC are conducting the first ever live trials of small cells using Femto-as-a-Service (FaaS) with a large-scale European mobile operator, using a multi-operator Small Cell Gateway. If successful, this product will allow any European mobile operator to launch Small Cells in their networks quickly, to offload data traffic and improve overall macro-network capacity.
This announcement comes on the heels of a September announcement by Virgin Media Business has it plans to launch a wholesale small cell network to enable UK mobile operators to deliver faster and more robust internet connections than current 3G services or Wi-Fi.