Deploying Dense Networks for Maximal Energy Efficiency: Small Cells Meet Massive MIMO

Publication Type:

Journal Article


IEEE J. Select. Areas Commun (2016)


How would a cellular network designed for maximal energy efficiency look like? To answer this fundamental question, we model future cellular networks using stochastic geometry and obtain a new lower bound on the average uplink spectral efficiency. This enables us to formulate a tractable energy efficiency (EE) maximization problem and solve it analytically with respect to the density of base stations (BSs), the transmit power levels, the number of BS antennas and users per cell, and the pilot reuse factor. The closed-form expressions obtained from this general EE maximization framework provide valuable insights on the interplay between the optimization variables, hardware characteristics, and propagation environment. Small cells are proved to give high EE, but the EE improvement saturates quickly with the BS density. Interestingly, the maximal EE is obtained by also equipping the BSs with multiple antennas and operate in a “massive MIMO” fashion, where the array gain from coherent detection mitigates interference and the multiplexing of many users reduces the energy cost per user.