Last month saw the Small Cell Forum issue yet another tranche of documentation and celebrated it's own 10 year anniversary. We asked David Orloff, Chairman for the past year, what to expect from the organisation in the future. He’s looking 10 years out towards a time with extensive 4G and 5G densification, strong industry collaboration through partnerships and substantial small cell take-up.
Release 10 – A vision for 5G
Small Cell Forum Release 10 published this month examines the promise and challenges of 5G. The output of the organisation continues to be prolific, with 18 documents released ranging from a new Vision for the 5G era to updated versions of previous papers.
The release also introduced a new format, a 2-minute glossy promotional video outlining the purpose and benefits of small cells to the non-technical.
The press release focuses on the direction towards 5G, with documents including:
- Vision for Densification into the 5G Era: Release Overview
- Millimetre wave 5G use cases
- Operational aspects of densification in the 5G Era
- 5G era business models and stakeholder engagement
Updated documents include the excellent “Deployment Issues for Enterprise Small Cells”, business cases for healthcare sector, ePC plugfest report and a full market status report with enthusiastic market forecasts from Rethink Research.
All documents are available for download from the repository scf.io (registration required.)
I spoke with David Orloff, Chairman of the Small Cell Forum for the past year, about this latest Release.
What aspects would you emphasise about this latest Release?
"You’ll find these documents are about making 5G more profitable and practical. I envisage an evolution towards the 5G era rather than a binary switch.
In the Forum, we’ve been looking at many aspects to ensure things can be done efficiently. I think it will be the US driving initial 5G technology deployment and the rest of the world will adopt it shortly thereafter.
One of the nice things about Release 10 is that we’ve changed the format of our messaging. There is still plenty of documentation but now accompanied by videos, graphics and partnerships. We need to account for our entire customer base, not just operators and members but also industry associations and enterprise customers. We recognise that output targeted at the engineering base of our industry will need to be tailored for the needs of other personas and industry verticals."
How quickly do you expect 5G to appear?
"I think 5G cellular service will start very soon. 5GNR (New Radio) will operate in duality with LTE and both will exist in parallel for some time. mmWave (millimetre wave) technology available today in trials is a “stair step” to full NR deployment.
5G is key for the small cell industry. As operators densify they are preparing sites including streetside poles for radios that support 5G from the outset. This will add huge capacity at the traffic bearer level.
We forecast a long term requirement somewhere between 100 and 350 small cells per square kilometre, which includes those inside buildings but inevitably many on street corners too. They will be a mix and match of both LTE and 5GNR."
How much of the Forum’s efforts will be focussed on 5G?
"We continue our efforts for existing work, divided into two primary workstreams:
- Digitising the Enterprise
- Deploying Hyperdense Networks
These address both 4G and 5G and will stay that way for the next year for sure."
How are you working with other organisations?
"We’ve been working with many organisations throughout the industry, agreement numerous partnerships and instigating collaboration. For example, we held a joint kickoff session with the TIA (Telecommunications Industry Association) at our Plenary in December to discuss and define work items around smart buildings and smart city use cases.
We’ve also held a densification summit in India, a partnership day last summer and will hold a further partnership day in Europe (France) next April.
We also created an Enterprise Advisory Council with participation from business/building owners.
An example of the results of this activity are a set of guidelines that we produced with the TIA around the size, implementation and wiring for small cell towers. It all helps to remove barriers and improve options for cell siting.
I believe this approach will accelerate progress on our path towards 5G."
What is the Forum doing on CBRS?
"There’s a lot of interest inside the Forum about use of the unlicensed bands. We have been working on operator sharing models for some years now.
Progress on CBRS is dependent on how the FCC and other agencies implement rules and regulations, especially the PAL (Priority Access Layer), but I’m confident this technology is going to happen.
The Forum already has a partnership in place with the CBRS Alliance and will be kicking off some joint work items in the near future."