Taipei – SCF and ITRI run inspiring events around shared 5G vision

Taiwan was the setting for two exciting events for Small Cell Forum last week. We co-hosted a 5G workshop with Taiwan’s famous technology R&D institute, ITRI, which attracted high-impact speakers from operators and vendors in the region to share their views on the role of small cells in 5G.

This was run in parallel with the latest SCF plugfest, also conducted in partnership with ITRI, which focused on private evolved packet core (EPC), an important enabling technology for a host of enterprise small cell use cases.

Taiwan was an ideal setting to discuss these significant developments in the mobile landscape. Its progressive mobile operators and huge, advanced electronics industry will be influential in driving 5G forward, so it is essential that there are close ties between Taipei and the small cell sector.

The Forum believes that Taiwan’s companies will be essential to creating a broad, competitive small cell ecosystem, which in turn will create economies of scale, accelerate densification and 5G, and help address many operator challenges.

Some of these challenges, and small cell solutions, were discussed by the MNO speakers at the workshop. Chunghwa Telecom represented the Taiwanese MNO sector. Its president, Yuan-Kuang Tu, offered opening remarks which highlighted the value of cooperation with ITRI and SCF, while Dr Chia-Horng Liu, a senior researcher, gave a fascinating outline of an important area of development – LTE-WLAN aggregation (LWA). Aggregation of licensed and unlicensed spectrum, spanning different air interfaces, will be an important enabler of dense HetNet and 5G.

SoftBank of Japan also shared its views on the road to 5G. Toshiyuki Ida has played a major role in small cell developments for the MNO, and gave a very interesting and visionary description of how densification would enhance the business model now, while getting the operator ready for 5G – which it will start to deploy at a very early stage.

The workshop kicked off with opening remarks from Chia-Hsiang Chang, science and technology adviser to the Department of IT at the Ministry of Economic Affairs, and the session was chaired by Li Fung Chang, who is the CTO of that department’s 5G Office. She also moderated a lively panel debate between selected speakers, including SCF’s Caroline Gabriel, who set out the role of small cells in the evolution of 5G, and the importance of fostering cooperation with the Taiwan ecosystem.

That theme was enlarged on by representatives from ITRI and the Taiwanese National Communications Commission (NCC), and by several vendors – Qualcomm, Affirmed Networks and Nokia. Pranesh Sinha, senior director of product manager at Qualcomm, mapped out the roadmap for parallel evolution of 4G and 5G; Yang Cheng, CTO APAC at Affirmed, reflected on the key theme of the plugfest, the importance of the virtualized EPC; while Grant Huang, radio product solution manager at Nokia, expanded on an important related topic, Multi-Access Edge Computing as an enabler of 5G use cases and private networks.

There was a detailed discussion of Taiwan’s 5G spectrum planning policy, which will be closely watched by many other regulators, from the NCC’s director, Chung-Shu Chen. And the workshop concluded in style with a lively and visionary presentation by Dr Shaw-Kang Wu, director of ITRI, on how to deploy and coordinate ultra-dense networks.

The workshop and plugfest were both extremely valuable to build on and enhance the close ties that SCF has with ITRI and the wider Taiwanese industry. Those ties will be a very important aspect of the Forum’s work to accelerate uptake of small cells in the run-up to 5G, and we look forward to many more close cooperations in the future.

You can download the presentation from the 5G workshop here.