Small Cell Forum’s Workshop brings 5G a few steps closer to reality

At Small Cell Forum, we have set ourselves an ambitious roadmap to ensure our members have their say throughout the process of defining 5G. Whatever that turns out to be, we know it will rely heavily on small cells, and so the Forum has an important role to play to influence standards and facilitate smooth deployment paths for service providers.

The broad support for these goals was very clear when chair David Orloff led a 5G workshop to kick off the Small Cells World Summit Americas conference in Dallas. The event was not only packed, but saw vocal and positive support for the ideas and roadmaps set out by the speakers. You can view all the presentations here» 

A wide array of views on small cells’ role in 5G were represented in a quickfire format where each speaker had 10 minutes to share their plans and opinions. All of these related well to the two new work streams, into which all the Forum’s activities will be channelled in the coming year. These are entitled Deploying Hyperdense Networks, and Enabling Digitized Enterprise, and it was clear from the presentations that high density, and enterprise connectivity, will be key drivers of 5G investment.

 The workshop therefore helped validate the Forum’s approach to 5G migration, but it also included a broader range of ideas and inputs too, which will help to guide the specifics of the work streams as they get underway.

 Key messages from the workshop included the importance of a flexible platform which can support a wide range of use cases – some of those highlighted included AT&T’s plans for connected cars; and Samsung’s trials of very high speed fixed wireless; and by contrast, a presentation from Cisco on ultra-low latency smart factory networks.

 AT&T added new categories to the familiar three-legged definition of 5G requirements – in addition to mobile broadband, ultra-reliable low latency (URLL) and massive IoT, it believes vehicular and smart city networks are so important that they should be treated as use cases in their own right.

 Presentations from SpiderCloud emphasized the importance of the enterprise opportunity and the need to support virtualization and Mobile Edge Computing,  themes also taken up in Huawei’s outlining of its 5G vision, and by CommScope with its depiction of a ‘cell-less’ 5G architecture. Many of the elements of 5G are developing now in a 4G world – SoftBank and Airhop focused on self-optimizing networks as a key enabler of dense 5G HetNets. Other developments are specific to 5G, as seen in Samsung’s and Ericsson’s discussions of millimetre wave spectrum, which will only support small cells.

 In the end, perhaps Parallel Wireless had the last word, saying ‘if we do 5G right, there’ll be no need for 6G’. The industry can hope for that outcome, and sharing ideas to create workable roadmaps, through events like this workshop, will be important in achieving that goal.

View the presentations here»