Company name: Freshwave
Company overview: Freshwave makes digital infrastructure simple. It’s the network service provider bringing together mobile operators, local and central government, and real estate providers in new ways.
Your name and title: Tom Bennett, CTO
Q1. Your company is a member of Small Cell Forum, so what is your view on the future of small cells as 5G comes in?
Small cells will enable exciting use cases as 5G standalone becomes ubiquitous. We’re already deploying a number of mobile private network (MPN) testbeds and have numerous active in-building small cell solutions with enterprise customers today. They are a key part of our toolkit in deploying appropriate and cost proportionate solutions to our customers to meet their service requirements. We already see that they are required indoor to meet capacity requirements that cannot be served by the macro networks and this will be compounded by the development of new 5G connectivity use cases and applications.
Outdoors will also be a big opportunity for small cells and 5G to deliver capacity where required for offloading from macro networks. We’re already working with many local authorities via open access agreements to install 4G small cells, which have an upgrade path to 5G, on council-owned assets. They not only bring immediate benefits to the community but are also future-ready and will continue to deliver value.
Q2. How do you see the industry changing at the moment and what can the Forum do to address/improve/or enhance these changes?
There is a real air of collaboration in the industry and the Forum has been instrumental in some of the developments. Freshwave was at the vanguard of the NHIB work, having delivered one of the first sites on the specification with Virgin Media O2, and the Forum did incredible work promoting NH solutions and creating momentum for this to happen. The UK is truly world-leading in this area. We very much support the production of the SCF NHIB High Level Design document. This is encouraging other markets to adopt solutions like the UK’s JOTS NHIB design standards. We would like to see more mobile operator engagement in the SCF forum, especially from other countries and markets, and would encourage the Forum to do more to encourage MNOs from all countries to join.
Q3. In relation to your business, what are some the key technologies /or polices that are driving the industry (or parts of the industry) forward at the moment, and how can we progress further and faster?
MPNs are a huge growth area as they’re going to unlock many use cases for enterprises. We’re working closely with our customers, all four MNOs and the relevant regulators to help make the most of the benefits that MPNs can bring to UK plc. Spectrum availability is a key consideration.
There is a lot of focus on fibre in the industry at the moment and while this is obviously important for many reasons (small cells being one of them) we’d like more attention paid to the opportunities provided by fixed wireless access (FWA). It’s never going to be commercially viable to get fibre to everywhere that people may want it, but by being a bit more versatile, making use of FWA approaches could help close the digital divide.