A new chapter begins

The launch of Release 5.1 – our groundbreaking analysis of the coming together of small cells and virtualization – took place yesterday at the Small Cells World 2015. Since then, there have been over 1,000 downloads of release papers – and the pace is not slowing.

Topping the Release 5.1 download ‘charts’ so far have been the overview paper (SCF106), and Small cell virtualization functional splits and use cases (SCF159). This may come as no surprise, but it’s worth mentioning that Small cells and license exempt spectrum (SCF097) and the topic brief Small cells and 5G evolution (SCF055) have also attracted an enormous amount of interest.

The change of emphasis reflected by this Release is as exciting as it was, with hindsight, inevitable. Most of us who began work in the macro world saw cellular move from niche luxury to ubiquitous essential with all that this implied in terms of new features, architectures and business models. Small cells were one result of that move and are now also enjoying – and having to cope with – the challenges of success.

Our mission statement has, of course, changed to reflect this. We now aim not just to drive the wide-scale adoption of small cells but also to accelerate the delivery of integrated HetNets.

The evolution of the Forum – and the development of clearly defined, rigorous work programs – has put us in an ideal position to make this happen. That evolution has also helped us to avoid fragmentation, incorporating contributions from an ever-more diverse range of players in a way that benefits everyone. Those of you who have downloaded some of our Release 5.1 documents will, we hope, feel that, so far, we have succeeded.

We are aware, however, that there is likely to be only a very brief break for pats on the back before we resume work on virtualization and the HetNet future that both drives it and is a consequence of it. In that sense Release 5.1 is a conclusion that is also a beginning – the beginning of another chapter in the extraordinary evolution of small cells.