The Small Cell Forum is to hold its first ever Open Day on September 8th, during our 30th plenary meeting in Rome. This represents a dragonfly moment for the organisation – after so much hard work, much of it carried out under the surface, it is time for the Forum to come out of the chrysalis and show off its achievements in the full sunshine.
The Champions’ Day will celebrate what the Forum and its members have accomplished so far, while also providing inspiration to fuel future efforts, and to facilitate the new partnerships those will require. The event, then, marks a transition to an ambitious and exciting new phase in the Forum’s work and role.
In the early years of a new technology initiative, there is huge effort required to define requirements and outline specifications, but much of this work is, of necessity, carried out behind the scenes. To the outside world, progress may appear to be slow or uncertain. But once the core platform, and the surrounding ecosystem, are in place, developments become more visible and more rapid.
That stage has now been reached, with more than 11 million small cells deployed worldwide. With the fundamental architecture and use cases defined, a broad ecosystem and large-scale deployments are emerging.
That is something to celebrate in its own right, and the Rome event will showcase some of the significant achievements of Forum members in recent times, enabling a broader audience to learn from the real world experiences of market leaders. This can be a very valuable way to boost confidence and give service providers the tools to make the leap into a new architecture.
However, there are new challenges too, to build on those foundations, in order to accelerate further uptake and help define how small cells will sit at the heart of broader trends, on the road to 5G.
So alongside state of the market presentations, the event will feature information and discussion about the Forum’s ambitious new work plan, which is structured around six key topics – Enterprise, Licence-exempt spectrum, Virtualisation, Multi-operator, 5G/M2M requirements, and HetNet/SON.
Over the next 18 months, the workgroups, the Release Program and other activities will address some of the biggest issues for today’s operators, which go well beyond small cells alone. How virtualisation and small cells impact on one another; how to harness licence-exempt spectrum more effectively; what will be the role of small cells in the Internet of Things and, ultimately, 5G – these topics will be high on the agenda, along with continuing work in areas which are already central to the work program, such as SON and enterprise platforms.
This new phase of Forum activity will involve an even greater level of communication – among its own vendor and operator members, but also with the wider industry, including companies from technology areas, such as IT, which are newly relevant to the mobile world.
There are already many partnerships between carriers and vendors, which are essential to the rising roll-out of small cells in commercial environments. In Rome, these will be showcased, and leveraged to inspire other companies with the potential of what can be done with a new architecture.
By opening the doors of the Forum’s plenary, the Champions’ Day will provide a platform for participants to network, exchange ideas and best practice, and make new contacts. Such events are vital to lay the groundwork for cooperation ahead, which will, in turn, feed into the Forum’s agenda.
Addressing so many complex issues will be challenging, and will require even more individuals and organisations to get actively involved. We hope the Champions’ Day will inspire many attendees to do just that, as well as enabling us to show off the achievements so far, at an exciting turning point in the small cell market.