This recent Cambridge Wireless Small Cell SIG event was held in London, and featured an impressive speaker line-up discussing the opportunities around shared spectrum solutions, similar to CBRS, for the UK in the 5G timeframe. Spectrum access is one of several key enablers that would allow the industry to serve in-building and rural users and industry verticals that are today underserved. The UK government favours a market expansion business model for which that is an important part. We heard from government, industry and an analyst on what to look out for in the years ahead.
The third Telecom Infrastructure Summit was held in London this year, away from its roots in California. This Facebook sponsored initiative has garnered substantial momentum since its launch two years ago, with over 500 member companies. I'd estimate over 1,500 attended this two day bonanza, up from 1,000 last year. TIP offers a route to market for budding start-ups and innovators of cellular radio access equipment, many of which you'd consider as small cell product and component vendors.
5GWorld is part of the larger TechXLR8 conference and exhibition, held in London’s Excel Centre this year. The show has evolved considerably since it was LTE World, expanding the scope to include AR/VR, Connected Cars, Tech startups and AI. It aims to hit all the hot buttons for the tech savvy and attract a wide audience. Exhibition attendance is free, with premium tickets for the major conference sessions.
The lifecycle of this annual event has seen many changes over the past 10 years or so since inception. Femtocells have been renamed Small Cells, the scope has expanded, 5G has become a hot topic. Many small cell start-ups have come and gone, we’ve shifted focus from technology to deployment and business case, and the larger RAN vendors and tower companies are much more visible.
5G dominated this year’s event, where major operators and vendors vied for position as the fastest, most prepared and technically advanced. A variety of 4G technology was also on display, from Gigabit LTE to MIMO antennas, and this is where most of the immediate investment is going. Virtual Reality demos and games were again popular attractions. We delved behind the hype to assess and digest what's really going on.
Like most analysts, my “dance card”/schedule is filling up with prearranged meetings, my inbox is filling up with press releases and my phone is ringing with calls about all sorts of new developments. If you plan to attend Mobile World Congress yourself, or just monitor remotely, here are a few high level areas to keep in mind from a Small Cell perspective.
I helped organise and chair another successful Cambridge Wireless Small Cell SIG event, this time looking at whether DAS and Enterprise Small Cells were competitors or complimentary.
Hosted by Huawei at their UK Headquarters in Reading, the event was a sellout with over 80 registrations. This style of event is very popular, attracting mostly UK industry participants including vendors, system integrators and property developers. Networking opportunities are good, partly because of the event size and partly down to the pragmatic type of delegate. It’s less about marketing gloss and more about addressing the issues.
The cellular industry sometimes uses a mantra “Build it and they will come”. It certainly felt that way at the Moscone Centre which was undergoing some serious expansion last week - the noise of piledriving next door was hard to miss. This was the first MWC Americas since the GSMA had taken over organising it from CTIA, and there were many other changes to the format and content apart from the major building work.
Cambridge Wireless Small Cell SIG ran a half-day event on rural and remote small cells, with expert speakers from EE, Nokia, Microsoft and Real Wireless. There is clearly both need and opportunity. Technical progress continues but the overall theme was that a change in operator mindset is needed on how best to deploy and support them using different processes from the traditional macrocell methods.