Operators take lead in new Small Cell Forum development drive

Six new work programs unveiled to meet carrier demand -- Operator “Champions” work alongside vendors in each initiative

At its Rome 30th Plenary, the Small Cell Forum outlined six new development programs designed to ease and speed small cell deployment, focus on developing technical solutions for HetNet integration, and establish requirements for 5G.

Dubbed “Champions Day”, the Forum’s Rome meeting was attended by leading operator and vendor industry representatives from across the world and heard presentations on each of the six new work programs from their operator Champions.

Each work program also has an industry vendor Champion and aims to deliver practical and deployable innovation that will be released to the operator and industry vendor eco-system license-free through the Forum’s Release Program.

The Forum’s Chairman, Alan Law, said: “This initiative represents the next stage in the maturity of our industry. It comes at a time when small cells are about to move to a new level of influence as demand ramps up for increasingly dense networks, a challenge to which the industry must rise. Our Champions program, the leadership of our operators, and the close involvement of our vendors, all demonstrate that we are ready.”

The six work programs and their Champions are:

License-exempt spectrum – this team is looking at the implications, opportunities and requirements in the small cell market from the broad use of license-free spectrum to significantly increase coverage and capacity to boost the mobile user experience while making optimum use of available spectrum. This program is being championed by Alan Law who is Distinguished Engineer at Vodafone and the chairman of the Small Cell Forum, in partnership collaboration with Caleb Banke, Senior Marketing Manager at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

Virtualization – the focus of this program is to address the growing move within mobile networks towards virtualization (NFV/SDN) to put network resources in the Cloud, closest to where they’re most needed, for optimization and scale. Building on the Forum’s virtualization study published as part of its 5.1 release, the program will define a new virtual small cell networked API, led by Shi Xiaohui at China Mobile Communications Corporation, with the support of Mark Grayson, Distinguished Consulting Engineer at Cisco and Neil Piercy, Head of Research at ip.access.

Multi-Operator – the goal of this program is to make small cells the preferred solution for delivering multi operator (neutral host) applications across vertical markets. The effort will be led by Truphone’s Head of Research & Development James Body with vendor support from Nick Johnson, Founder and CTO of ip.access.

Enterprise – this program is looking at the rapidly growing Enterprise small cell market opportunity, including the potential for a cost-effective self service model designed for ease of Enterprise IT deployment. It will be championed by Benoit Graves, Head of Radio Access Network Strategy at Orange with support from Art King, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies at SpiderCloud and Ray Williamson, ‎Director of Product Management at Huawei.

HetNet and SON – the ability to easily serve the exponential growth in mobile traffic while delivering a seamless customer experience across all elements of the wireless network is the promise of HetNet. This effort will focus on making that promise real, and will be directed by David Orloff, Director, Small Cells Platforms at AT&T in partnership with Martin Ljungberg, Strategic Project Manager at Ericsson and Joe Thorne of AirHop Communications.

5G, M2M and IoT – Small cells will be a cornerstone of 5G networks, and the working group leading the Forum’s contribution to industry activity around 5G, IoT and M2M will be directed by Tareq Amin, Sr Vice President, Wireless Network of Jio, supported by Ray Williamson, Director of Product Management, of Huawei.

Although the programs are running in parallel, the timetables for delivering results vary. The Enterprise program will be the first to deliver results to the marketplace – with an initial output scheduled to publish in time for Mobile World Congress 2016.

About Small Cell Forum
Small Cell Forum works to drive the wide-scale adoption of small cells and accelerate the delivery of integrated HetNets. We are not a standards organization but partner with organizations that inform and determine standards development. We are a carrier-led organization. This means our operator members establish requirements that drive the activities and outputs of our technical groups. Our track record speaks for itself: we have driven the standardization of key elements of small cell technology including Iuh, FAPI, SON, the small cell services API, TR 069 evolution and the enhancement of the X2 interface. At the time of writing, Small Cell Forum has more than 140 members, including 68 operators representing more than 3 billion mobile subscribers – 46 per cent of the global total – as well as telecoms hardware and software vendors, content providers and innovative start-ups.

About the Champions Day in Rome
More than 90 leaders and influencers from all parts of the small cell industry gathered for the Small Cell Champions Day hosted by the Forum during its European plenary in Rome. The Champions Day was created to unveil the new work programs which aim to drive and consolidate industry success as well as inspire new thinking.
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