Small Cells Champions Day – the hot topics

We’ve invited every major European operator to a special open day 8 September in Rome. Our Small Cells Champions Day, the first day of our 30th Plenary, is open to both members and non-members. The aim is for small cell pioneers from the world’s leading carriers to share their successes and deployment experiences in a state of the market workshop. We’ll also be discussing the hot topics that comprise our technology roadmap. These are detailed below. If you would like to be part of this discussion, you can register here to join us. Or you can let your competitors be there instead…

Virtualization and centralization of the RAN improves radio performance, deployment flexibility and scalability for operators, and is already key to their future technology strategies. Small Cell Forum has recently been looking at what can be achieved with small cells over the low cost packet IP transport widely available today, and has proposed an interface based on the extensively adopted FAPI. Our current work item is developing this into an open, interoperable and transport friendly definition.

License Exempt spectrum is a resource which operators rely on to enhance their service offering, and being lower power, requires a small cell approach. There are a range of existing and emerging technology options available including Carrier Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Calling, LTE-LAA and LWA. Each of these has its strengths, and the Forum’s new Work Item seeks to identify the scenarios to which they are best suited. We consider the complimentary nature of joint deployment alongside licensed band small cells and share case studies from leaders.

HetNet and SON Femtocells were arguably the first scale commercial deployment of SON, bringing zero-touch self-deployment to consumers. SON capability has since been evolving to include automated configuration of small cell networks and enhanced integration with other components of the HetNet: Wi-Fi, Macro and DAS. The SCF has already published a number of works on SON and HetNet, including use cases, an API, Interoperability of X2 support and inclusion in our plug fest programme. There are also works on Wi-Fi integration, and interference management with Macro networks. Going forward the SCF aims to enhance and consolidate these works into a package covering all aspects of automated integration of small cells into HetNets for release six in May 2016.

Multi-Operator Many enterprise and venue deployments require coverage for all operators rather than only one. Rather than deploying several separate networks, multi-operator small cells can reduce costs for building owners and/or operators, and enable a neutral host business model. We aim to identify and compare different technology approaches to serving the multi operator scenario and share learnings from deployments to date.

Enterprise is arguably the fastest growing market segment for small cells, and as such is evolving rapidly. The Forum is performing a focussed review of our current Enterprise release material to make sure it reflects the state of the art and includes the latest developments.

5G, M2M and IoT: Although there is some uncertainty over what 5G will be, one thing that everybody agrees on is that a dense network of small cells will be fundamental to delivering the required capacity and coverage depth. The forum is working with industry partners to contribute its understanding of the practicalities of small cells to the 5G process. The forum also sees a role for small cells in M2M and the Internet of Things: Giving enterprises the ability to self-deploy cellular coverage will bring the confidence that services will work where they are needed, and stimulate earlier adoption of M2M.

Find out more about Small Cells Champions Day here »