Small cells news round-up: February 2016
The dark days of January are over and the mobile industry is in the grip of its annual frenzied build-up to Mobile World Congress at the end of February. Small Cell Forum will be more active than ever, and the Small Cell Zone, in Hall 7, Stand F61 will showcase the brightest innovations in this sector, as well as a hectic program of presentations and meetings.
As small cells move into the mainstream of carrier planning, they will be an inherent part of many other major developments expected at MWC – in areas like HetNet, self-optimizing networks, LTE in unlicensed spectrum, and of course, 5G.
In the news items which grabbed our attention around the turn of the year, small cells are not just found in specific product announcements, but cropping up in broader developments such as IoT trials, and standards work in ETSI and the 3GPP. Other significant developments have also been taking place in recent weeks. The end of 2015 saw the conclusion of the World Radio Conference, with important implications for small cells – in the harmonization of the 3.5 GHz band worldwide, and a study item focused on bands above 24 GHz for 5G.
Unlicensed spectrum is increasingly important in the HetNet too, and the Forum has been working with the Wireless Broadband Alliance to provide a key enabler of this – a specification for a Trusted WLAN interface to connect Wi-Fi access points to 3GPP architectures.
Such developments highlight that small cells will be a critical element of new evolving architectures such as virtualized RAN. These will not only feed into the 5G standards process, but help operators like Verizon and Sprint to accelerate the densification plans which they are kicking off now.