Indian densification sets a high bar for small cell industry
On October 4-5, Small Cell Forum held its first ever Densification Summit, which was also its first-ever major event in India. Hosted at its Mumbai headquarters by Reliance Jio, the newest wireless operator in this country, the summit highlighted the enormous potential for dense HetNets to revolutionize mobile services and operator economics in this enormous and data-hungry market.
The expected growth in small cell deployment in India is huge – it is expected to outpace the global figure significantly. In India, compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of new small cell deployments between 2016 and 2022 will be 33% in enterprise environments and 90% in outdoor urban (though the former is a far larger base). These figures compare to global CAGR forecasts of 26% and 79% respectively, according to SCF/Rethink Technology Research predictions.
But there are plenty of challenges to achieving this scale of roll-out. Attendees heard detailed accounts of how Jio – which has already deployed over 100,000 small cells – has managed its densification process so far, and the business models that is supporting.
The event also captured detailed requirements from Jio and other regional operators, requirements that need to be addressed if India is to fulfill its objectives for “abundant and affordable data”, the mantra of Reliance Industries’ chairman. Jio executives said they were part of the Forum because they believe it is best placed to drive a broad, open ecosystem, which will be essential to drive down costs, encourage innovation and accelerate deployment. They also believe the Forum can drive progress in critical technology areas such as multivendor interoperability and standardized, end-to-end management and optimization of complex HetNets.
To facilitate this, on Day Two of the Summit, Forum members and working group leaders addressed some of the issues that had been raised on Day One. And this was not just a two-day discussion – insights from the event will be used to refine SCF’s work program for densification, now and into the 5G era.
The Mumbai summit supported an essential part of the Forum’s work – to capture operator requirements and apply them to open frameworks. In doing that, we need to strike the right balance between understanding specific local or regional requirements and then addressing them within a global framework which can be adapted for any MNO in any region.
This interplay between local and global is why the Forum is holding a series of major summits in key regions where densification is starting to take place. The first was in North America – Partners’ Day in Atlanta in July. (See the Partners’ Day Report here). The second was the Mumbai Densification Summit. The next event will be held in Europe in the spring.
At each of these summits, operators and partner organizations join Forum members to present and discuss their work on densification so far, and the requirements they have for the small cell industry in general, and SCF in particular.
In India, the key requirements were identified as the following:
- Data should be abundant and affordable – “Hyperdense is a must”
- Costs must be reduced to be comparable to the Wi-Fi model
- Telcos must accelerate to the speed and agility of web-scale IT
- Mobile network assets need to be leveraged to deliver unmatchable customer experiences
- Automation must be unified E2E to support business goals and customer experience
- HetNet domains, including RAN, unlicensed and backhaul, need to co-exist, interwork and be manageable from common platforms
Achieving these goals will be at the heart of SCF’s work program for 2017 and 2018, helping to transform the small cell business model in India and elsewhere. To learn more about the Densification Summit, and the action points to follow, see our post-show report and access the presentations here.