From the home, the enterprise, the street and the cafe to the remote village in the developing world and the offshore oil rig in the wildest seas: communications in any and every environment can use and be enhanced by small cells.
That’s not an unfounded assertion. It’s backed up by a vast amount of work that Small Cell Forum’s members have done and are still doing to build and enhance our contributions to small cell technology, standards development and deployments.
In recent years that work has been highlighted by our Release Program, a series of downloadable resources offering a guide to small cell deployment across numerous use cases. With Release Five, launched at this year’s Mobile World Congress (and free to download at scf.io) we have shone the spotlight on our continuing work on small cell deployment in remote and rural areas.
‘Continuing’ is the key word here. While Release Five discusses the viability of what we feel is an impressive range of use cases, the needs and the economic and social rewards of those use cases will develop – and so will our ongoing programs of work related to them.
Technology, standards, market drivers, economics and regulation will all evolve as small cell technology evolves. And as more commercial deployments take place everywhere – not just in remote and rural areas – we will develop our contribution and feed our experience into making the use cases richer, demonstrating best practice and resolving barriers to small cell adoption.
There are already specific new and emerging topics being addressed by the Forum. Virtualization, SON, Wi-Fi integration and 5G are all going to play a part in small cell development in the coming years, as is our work on them. In addition the relevance of small cells to what is variously called LTE-Unlicensed or LTE-LAA (Licensed Assisted Access) is attracting urgent interest from the mobile communications industry in general. With this technology due to be standardized in 3GPP’s Release 13 Small Cell Forum has the opportunity to take an active role in driving this emerging standard forward in the real world.
We said at the beginning of this blog that communications in any and every environment can use and be enhanced by small cells. Release Five and its predecessors indicate that this is true. However, our work on the Releases and the overall program of the Forum is, if anything, expanding. It is addressing not just use cases but the role of small cell evolution on those use cases. And if the quickening pace of technological change is anything to go by that role is going to be more relevant than ever before.