The Milan plenary is only weeks away. We’ve been saying this a lot in recent years, but this is certainly going to be one of the most significant Small Cell Forum meetings to date. Coming off the back of a titanic — and successful — effort to cover every facet of urban small cell rollout in Releases Three and Four, the election of Alan Law as our new chair and the arrival of a new executive board, it begins a potentially even busier period during which two topics in particular will occupy our discussions: Release Five and virtualization.
Virtualization in particular has moved to the forefront of our thinking in response to its growing role in operators’ planning in parts of their RAN. Small cell rollout is entering denser and more complex HetNet scenarios. Small cells therefore need to fully interwork with other platforms that already offer virtualized RAN offerings if they are to remain a significant part of operator planning in the years to come.
But virtualization in the small cell context is not a done deal. It is, as members have pointed out, not just about need, technology and integration but about business case and cost. And about timing: this isn’t a quick fix but something that we need to put in place for the long haul and revisit as operator and end user needs change. Hence the recent instigation of a new work stream to tackle these challenges.
But we are ready for those challenges. After all, as we never tire of pointing out, the SCF and its members have already laid the foundations for small cell rollout in the enterprise, the stadium, the street and other areas that once would have been regarded as marginal or unfeasible. They are all now part of the mobile network future. Milan is where we — and you — will make it clear that small cells and virtualization are also part of that future. Please get in touch and get involved: the topic may be virtual but the need for your input is very real.
Find out more about the plenary here.