Industry Analyst Caroline Gabriel is the Chair of Judges for the SCF Small Cell Awards 2018. The awards are now open for entry – submit your entries before Thursday 5 April 2018.
The SCF Small Cell Awards are now in the tenth year, placing them among the best established and most highly valued of the industry’s prizes.
Once again, I’m excited to be the chair of a panel of prominent analysts and industry commentators, who will be the judges of commercial excellence and innovation in 11 categories.
Like the small cell industry itself, those categories are a mixture of the long-established and the new. Excellent design of small cell access points and creative approaches to backhaul have always been essential, and are still the subject of awards now (though backhaul has broadened to Xhaul to reflect the emergence of virtualized networks). Another 10-year stalwart of the awards is the prize for social and economic impact, which reminds us that wireless connectivity is not just about commercial success for vendors and operators, but about making a profound difference to some communities.
New or revised categories reflect how much the small cell industry has changed in its first decade, from a mainly residential platform to being at the heart of 4G densification and of 5G. In recent years, there has been more emphasis on proven commercial deployments, as the small cell business case has matured and large-scale roll-outs have begun in many environments from urban to rural to enterprise. This year, we have added special recognition for small cell solutions which address emergency or temporary requirements for connectivity, an area where they can make a real difference.
Last year’s newcomer, excellence in management software, has been refined to include specific reference to automation, with this being an important theme for small cells and 5G. And the general trend for networks to be more software than hardware is seen in an award for key enablers of densification, with special emphasis on virtualization and edge computing.
And while commercial track record is critical, we mustn’t forget that continuing success will only be assured by a steady stream of innovation and new ideas in small cell platforms, so we retain two very popular categories, for innovation in design and architecture, and innovation in the business model.
Industry awards are not just about trophies and a glittering dinner. They are an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the past year, but even more importantly, to help build action plans for the one ahead. The 2015 awards process highlighted the importance of real world deployment case studies, and led directly to the Forum’s first Champions’ Day; and in 2016, the entries and winners highlighted the central role small cells were now taking in the broader HetNet, driving the establishment of the Forum’s series of influential 5G workshops.
In 2017, the diversity of entries reflected how the environment in which small cells were playing was widening even further, bringing new challenges which could only be met by working closely with other industry organizations. This was one factor in the creation of SCF’s important new events of last year, the Partners’ Day and Densification Summit.
No doubt this year’s awards process will throw a light on more trends and key issues, and influence SCF policy and planning for the year ahead. This is just one of many reasons why your organization will benefit from submitting entries for this year’s awards. Not just the chance of glory in May, but an opportunity to showcase the technology or business case you are pursuing, and help shape the wider agenda for the small cell industry.
Once again we have a high powered and illustrious panel of analysts and other experts, all with deep specialized knowledge of the small cell sector, and all fiercely independent. The profile of the judges is one of the key factors which differentiates these awards from many others, insisting on objectivity and transparency throughout the process. When you submit your entry, you can be sure it will be discussed, compared and analysed in great detail and with considerable knowledge.
The full list of awards categories is here. Do give them some thought over the coming weeks and submit your technologies, services and deployments. We look forward to seeing your entries, and perhaps to celebrating with you at the gala dinner in May.