5G FAPI specs updated with richer 3GPP feature set

5G FAPI suite with richer 3GPP feature set to underpin supply chain diversification

SCF has updated the suite of 5G FAPI specifications which underpin the high-performance low-cost components integral to 5G mobile base stations, whether small cell or macro. This update demonstrates the ongoing commitment of the ecosystem to continually improve the standard, adding new features and maintaining existing ones.

5G products and components

Our aim is to clearly define all types of 5G small cells and 5G small cell RAN products over the next five years

5G small cells

Small cells drive network rollout in numerous indoor and outdoor environments, and will in the future support not only public networks but dedicated private networks, the IoT and more. These networks will often be managed by new players. Many will use neutral hosting to ensure multi-operator connectivity. We are working to help our industry avoid the risks and gain the rewards of these new approaches.

In particular, these networks require commonality of design and features in order to be cost-effective. Driving open interfaces – from chip to network to application layers – has always been at the heart of our work. Our landmark family of common interfaces – the 3G and 4G FAPI specifications – is supporting this aim.

Our 5G nFAPI specifications build on this. They enable interoperability to the next generation of networks.

5G small cell architecture and product definitions

This paper aims to provide a consensus view and concise definition of the types of 5G small cells being rolled out now and in the near future. It also aims to define the key characteristics of the different types of commercially viable 5G small cell RAN products that will be available over the next five years. It takes account of 3GPP and O-RAN Alliance 5G disaggregated open RAN specifications – work that covers macrocells but also includes microcells and picocells.

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Options for indoor cellular coverage

This document is for enterprises that want to improve in-building cellular services but you don’t know what their options are. The document covers a wide range of buildings – from small offices and cafés through small-to-medium enterprise offices, hotels, venues and factories, right up to large enterprise offices, campuses, stadiums and airports.

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SCF release papers

You might also be interested in the following documents

Edge computing and small cell networks

This paper looks in detail at the architectures and deployment considerations for edge and small cells in specific premises-based use cases.

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network monitor

5G FAPI: Network monitor mode API

The functional application platform interface (FAPI) is an initiative within the small cell industry released by the Small Cell Forum.

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Small cell SON and orchestration from 4G to 5G

One of the first and most important examples of automation being developed for the RAN is SON (self-organizing or self-optimizing network), which has been a central element of SCF’s work programme and outputs for some years.

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Related content

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Addressing the risk of fragmentation

In the 5G era, small cells will be deployed in a far wider range of scenarios, and the form factors and architectures will be much more varied than in the past. The introduction of virtualized, disaggregated networks means that some small cells will consist of two or three elements, while others will still be all-in-one. It is clear, then, that old definitions are now inadequate, and we have been conscious of the risks of the industry fragmenting between hundreds of different designs that had insufficient common features to achieve any scale.


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What we are working on

Below are some of our up-coming work items

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Sub 6 GHz 5G small cell Open RAN reference design

This video gives an overview of the new work item SCF251 – Sub 6 GHz 5G Small Cell Open RAN Reference Design. The work kicked off at the beginning of the year. It is being led by representatives from arQana Technologies, Picocom and Senko and aims, amongst other things, to develop a minimum viable product reference design to standardize connections for the interface between baseband and transceiver.

Neutral host technology requirements

Historically, mobile network operators selected RAN equipment and neutral host service providers employed RAN-agnostic DAS, or separate operator-selected small cells. New business models enabled by sharing initiatives – like CBRS in the US and JOTS in Europe – put RAN purchase within the control of neutral hosts, who have different requirements to MNOs.

This initiative looks at what neutral host providers expect from mobile infrastructure and how small cells need to evolve to meet those needs.

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