Awards 2021

The Ultimate Badge of Excellence!

For over a decade the SCF Small Cell Awards has been recognizing the very best deployments, innovations, and new uses case for small cells in our industry. And after a year in which the world has been faced with a pandemic, we have even more cause to celebrate and congratulate those businesses that have excelled over the past 12 months.

Independently judged by leading analysts and journalists and organized by Small Cell Forum, the SCF Small Cell Awards are upheld as the Oscars of the small cell industry.

The awards recognize both technical innovation and commercial success, and the integrity and objectivity of the judging process means they are a genuine help for operators making buying decisions. They are open to the whole industry (not just SCF members) and will be celebrated at the virtual ceremony at the end of Small Cells World Summit 2021.

Previous winners include: Nokia, SK Telecom, Digital Colony, Qualcomm, Airspan, Parallel Wireless, BT Wholesale.

Closing date for submissions: 19 March


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Ceremony

This year the ceremony will take place virtually, at the end of Small Cells World Summit 2021, on May 13. Those making an entry will be asked to submit a short two-minute video to accompany the submission which should demonstrate their entry.

The shortlist will be announced at the beginning of SCWS on 11 May, and shortlisted videos will be hosted as part of the summit for delegates to view. The winners will have their videos played live during the ceremony.

Each entry submitted will receive two free delegate passes for Small Cells World Summit 2021 and the virtual SCF Small Cell Awards Ceremony.

We are delighted to be hosting a short analyst panel session at the beginning of the ceremony, where our judges will discuss industry trends and topics from the conference. And don’t forget, even though it’s virtual, you’ll still need your tuxedos and cocktail dresses for what promises to be a fantastic celebration of our industry!

Categories

Our industry is changing rapidly. Small cells used to be all about indoor coverage, but today small cells are finding vital roles in every aspect of network design, not least to provide capacity for incoming 5G. They will be the enablers of IoT innovations and 5G businesses cases globally, and they are bringing connectivity to rural and remote scenarios. To reflect the changing nature of, and technology within, the industry, the award categories now include topics such as 5G migration, SON and Orchestration, and RAN.

Please click on the category name to view the description.

  • For an entry to qualify for this category, it must refer to a small cell deployment that is in current and commercial use and has been deployed by a mobile network operator (MNO) – a service provider which holds national licensed spectrum, at least some of it for public access and generic use cases.

    The judges will be looking for new ideas, either technical or relating to the business model, which have enhanced the small cell offering to the market. Entrants will be able to demonstrate that they have developed and deployed a capability to service providers or subscribers which provides demonstrable cost savings, revenue generation, ease of use or quality of service improvements.

    The judges will consider not just the success and inventiveness of the offering but its market impact and provision in terms of delivery or package. Entrants will also need to explain how their product stands out in the market. This category may include award submissions for real, measurable commercial trials, but not lab trials.

  • For an entry to qualify for this category, it must refer to a small cell deployment that is in current and commercial use and has been deployed by an alternative service provider rather than an MNO. An alternative service provider deploys wireless networks in unlicensed or shared spectrum, and/or in spectrum assigned for specific purposes such as enterprise access, rather than for generic public use. Examples include neutral hosts, private network operators and heavy MVNOs. It does not include MVNOs, OTTs or other service providers that do not build out any of their own small cell networks.

    The judges will be looking for new ideas, either technical or relating to the business model, which have enhanced the small cell offering to the market. Entrants will be able to demonstrate that they have developed and deployed a capability to service providers or subscribers which provides demonstrable cost savings, revenue generation, ease of use or quality of service improvements.

    The judges will consider not just the success and inventiveness of the offering but its market impact and provision in terms of delivery or package. Entrants will also need to explain how their product stands out in the market. This category may include award submissions for real, measurable commercial trials, but not lab trials.

  • In an increasingly software-driven world, this category focuses on the physical aspects of the small cell network – including the access point, and other network elements such as gateways, controllers, security, network-in-a-box solutions.

    This category also includes Xhaul (backhaul and fronthaul), as well as integrated access/Xhaul solutions. Eligible entries include hardware and software developments in wired or wireless backhaul, where these are specific to small cells, and can include associated technologies such as timing and sync.

    The judges will look for entrants which demonstrate an identifiable benefit to the operator business case and to the advancement of the ecosystem. They will assess submissions according to market impact – commercial deployments or trials, numbers shipped, impact on cost of deployment, ecosystem; and/or technical differentiation, including performance, quality of experience, spectral efficiency etc.

    Contributions to ease of deployment, interoperability and scalability will be considered also. Reference to commercial deployments or results of large-scale trials will be helpful.

  • The need to meet increasing capacity demands places an increasing burden on small cells and makes it essential that networks are well planned and managed, to maximise resource efficiency and minimise interference and congestion.

    That task involves a diverse range of elements including multiple spectrum bands, different cell form factors, and other parts such as backhaul links or controllers. The situation is complicated further by the introduction of virtualized small cell networks. The need to coordinate large numbers of elements, and to manage virtual and physical functions requires a rising level of automation.

    Management and automation of complex HetNets, including orchestration of virtual and physical functions, is the focus of this category, which places small cells within the broader context of a HetNet that must be planned and managed from end-to-end.

    Judges will be looking for solutions which ease the deployment and management of small cell HetNets that are capable of scaling to meet the new demands while incorporating a variety of elements, which may be virtual or physical.

    Examples include tools, services and cloud solutions focused on planning, testing, network management, SON, optimization, workflow management and virtual network MANO (management and orchestration).

    The judges will look for entrants which demonstrate an identifiable benefit to the operator business case and to the advancement of the ecosystem. They will assess submissions according to market impact – commercial deployments or trials, numbers shipped, impact on cost of deployment, ecosystem; and/or technical differentiation, including performance, quality of experience, spectral efficiency etc.

    Contributions to ease of deployment, interoperability and scalability will be considered also. Reference to commercial deployments or results of large-scale trials will be helpful.

  • This category is focused on technical innovations which will help to push the boundaries of the small cell platform and enable new architectures and use cases.

    The judges will assess any small cell technology, including access points, network elements, backhaul or virtualized platforms, purely by its level of technical innovation. The entrants can be commercial or pre-commercial, and can relate to current technologies or to pre-5G projects. However, they will need to demonstrate uniqueness in design, performance or functionality, and must clearly state how these will help to improve the small cell business case, now or in the future.

  • This category is focused on technical innovation in chips and other components that enable current and future small cells to support new performance levels, architectures and use cases.

    The judges will assess chips and other components, such as system-on-chip (SoC), RF front end, baseband processors, based entirely on the level of technical innovation – both in the component itself and the innovations it enables in a small cell product.

    The entrants can be commercial or pre-commercial, and can relate to current technologies or to emerging architectures. However, they will need to demonstrate uniqueness in design, performance or functionality, and must clearly state how these will help to improve the small cell business case, now or in the future. Pure research projects will not be considered.

  • The second Innovation category also looks to reward creative thinking and new ideas, which may be commercial or pre-commercial. This category focuses on innovation in the business case for small cells.

    Entrants can be at the trial phase but must be able to demonstrate uniqueness and creativity, and describe how the business case is enhanced or enabled by small cells, and what benefits it would bring to service providers. Detailed proof points and customer/trial examples will be helpful to illustrate innovation. The business case can relate to any small cell market – enterprise, urban, residential or rural/remote.

  • This new category recognizes the growing importance of shared and neutral host networks in the small cell business model. The ability to deploy such networks will be enhanced by the development of products and services that specifically enable sharing of infrastructure and active networks.

    The judges will rewards entrants that can demonstrate a direct connection between their product or service, and improved ability for multiple service providers to share and monetize a small cell network. Detailed proof points and customer examples will be helpful to illustrate this.

    The product or service does not have to be exclusively designed to enable multi-operator and neutral host platforms, but must provide such platforms with clear advantages such as ease of deployment, ease of coexistence, ability to differentiate services on a shared platform etc.

  • Small Cell Forum is active in defining and promoting open standards, to encourage interoperability at every layer of the RAN. This award will reward an operator, vendor or industry group that has made the most impactful contribution, in the past 1-2 years, to the development or adoption of open specifications at any layer of the small cell RAN, including:

    • common interfaces between components in a system-on-chip
    • common interfaces between network elements such as the radio unit, distributed unit and/or centralized unit in a disaggregated small cell RAN; or between access points and controllers
    • open source or open software stacks and tools

    Judges will look for

    • solutions which make innovative use of technologies from open network initiatives including SCF itself, or other groups such as Open Networking Foundation
    • technologies which have been submitted to open platform initiatives and/or standards development organizations
    • solutions which commercialise standard interfaces and so support their adoption

    Solutions can be fully commercial or under development but a clear commercial roadmap must be demonstrated. Pure research projects will not be considered.

  • The judges want to look beyond the purely commercial implications of small cells and recognize their potential to have a social and economic impact too.

    This is a wide-ranging category. In the past, submissions have ranged from solutions that make it more cost-effective to bridge the digital divide in remote or deprived communities; that improve the quality of life, or business opportunities, of underserved citizens; that lessen the environmental cost of wireless expansion.

    The judges encourage entries which demonstrate any form of significant positive impact on the socio-economic climate, and the external environment, in which citizens live in any part of the world.

  • The Judges’ Choice is a special award which recognizes overall excellence, and an exceptional contribution to the development of the small cell industry. It particularly focuses on an organization whose impact is felt to go beyond specific categories.

    The judges will select the winner from among the entries across all the other awards categories, focusing on overall contribution to innovation, commercial success, and/or market development across the sector. The award may relate to the organization’s broader contribution, not to the specific submission in isolation.

 

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