It’s only two months until the Small Cell Forum announces the winners of its eighth annual awards, but there’s still some time to make sure your organization is in the race. The deadline for the awards entry is 31 March and you can enter here »
The competition gets more intense each year, reflecting the expansion of small cells into so many areas of the mobile world, and the profile and prestige that comes from being shortlisted grow likewise. The number of awards has grown over the years, so there is sure to be a category to fit your business, whichever area of the ecosystem you are in. The judges are looking for strong evidence of commercial success and/or technology innovation, in both products and services.
These awards have succeeded in retaining their reputation for integrity, with a rigorous judging process – and many of the panel of industry analysts have been judges ever since the first awards in 2009. The awards categories, and the range of winners, have changed a lot in those seven years, in a way that clearly reflects how the small cell sector has matured and grown. Winners over the last few years include Fujitsu, SK Telecom, Cisco, Quortus, Nokia, Airspan, Parallel Wireless and EE.
Looking back at the first set of winners, the focus was naturally on the access point, a brand new form factor then. Taking the very first award was ip.access, still an influential player today, with its nano3G Enterprise femtocell and its still-fondly remembered virtual fridge notes.
Since then, the awards have often reflected important milestones in the small cell sector’s evolution. As early as 2010, operators and their real world deployments were already taking center stage – in that year, AT&T was honored for its first US roll-out of microcells, while Vodafone won for the launch of SureSignal. Both of these were significant steps on the way to mass roll-out of small cells, at that time mainly in the residential environment. Fast forward to 2015, and the variety of winners is even greater – who would have expected, in 2009, that a company which manages advertising hoardings, JC Decaux, would carry off the prize for small cell technology enabler?
The way that the architecture has expanded beyond the home has been mirrored in additional awards categories, introduced over the years – separate prizes for enterprise, home, urban and rural deployments; new awards for backhaul and management systems; and an increasing focus on the commercial success of products and service providers, as adopters take as much interest in business cases as technology. So there really is a category to suit every player in the small cell ecosystem, from cutting edge start-ups to tier one operators.
The balance between recognizing cutting edge innovation and commercial success and longevity is important to the awards and their judges. Indeed, in 2015, the array of real world success stories – captured in the group photo of assembled winners in London’s beautiful Greenwich Painted Hall – inspired the Forum to create its first Champions’ Day, to celebrate commercial deployments and set the agenda for further developments in 2016 – many of which are sure to be showcased in this year’s winners.
We have no doubt that equally momentous decisions will follow from this year’s process, and the organizations which submit will help shape the agenda and priorities for 2016, as well as having their products and services showcased in the small cell industry’s premier event of the year.
In 2016, a year when so many exciting developments are taking place – from an explosion in enterprise adoption to the dawn of new virtualized architectures – there will be an even brighter spotlight on this event, in its new home in the shadow of London’s O2 Arena. Make sure that your organization has the opportunity to be on this stage, and we look forward to seeing your submissions.