Small Cell Forum lines up who’s who of industry bodies for 5G push

Small Cell Forum unveils collaboration plan with 10 other industry partners.

The Small Cell Forum (SCF)  has defined its relationships with a who’s who of industry alliances as it seeks to bring technical and commercial clarity to its 10 year vision of small cell-based network densification.

A  recent meeting hosted by the Small Cell Forum brought together 10 other industry organisations:  3GPP, CBRS Alliance, CTIA, ETSI (MEC and NFV ISGs), GSMA, NGMN, ONAP, TIA, XRAN Forum and MEF, to find “alignment” on 5G issues as they relate to small cells and network densification.

The SCF’s aim was to sort out ways it can work with the other bodies (and vice versa) around a 10 year network densification roadmap. The roadmap, put together by the SCF, identifies a vision for dense networks in 2027, and names industry trends that will enable that vision.

The Forum said that 5G would bring together a range of technical trends – from virtualisation to automation, orchestration and spectrum sharing. In each of these areas it wants to “align” with the relevant industry partner. No one industry organisation can bring all this together, the Forum said. Instead there should be greater collaboration between organisations, avoiding duplication and possible fragmentation of efforts.

The 5G densification “hairslide of enlightment”

“The task of building an ecosystem around densification is too large and diverse for any one organisation. Collaboration between industry associations is essential,” the SCF said. “Our vision for a proliferation in types of radio access, the entities involved in ownership and operation, and the types of service and customers these imply means that richer collaboration will be needed in future to ensure consistent understanding across a wider set of ecosystem stakeholders,” it added

A paper from SCF produced after the meeting said, “Siloed research into 5G era technology must now give way to a consolidation phase on the best approaches to virtualisation, cloud, edge, and functional splits.”

The Forum said:

• The 5G Era will require increasing sophistication from mobile operators. Their challenge is to bring together a growing number of LTE and 5G radio access technologies and present them as a range of connectivity services with associated APIs to a number of customer segments, and for ongoing wealth  creation through innovation.
• Enabling this evolution is a fully virtualised, distributed, ultra-reliable software controlled agile infrastructure, with automation to facilitate large-scale low-cost network densification through third-party deployments.
• Effective integration of all these technologies can only be achieved with open and interoperable standards, which are also needed to ensure competition and economies of scale.
• Adoption of these 5G Era technologies will require culture shifts in processes and structure across a broad range of commercial and governmental organisations, each of which have a part to play in making it happen.

The paper has a section by section approach to proposed collaboration between each organisation and the SCF – including the technical or business areas that each relationship will help define.

The technology topics, and the participating partners, were:

  • •  Virtualization, cloud and edge (ETSI NFV/MEC and XRAN Forum)
  • •  SON, management and orchestration (MANO) with ONAP
  • •  Shared spectrum and multi-operator (CBRS-Alliance)
  • •  RAN standards (3GPP)
  • •  Interoperability testing – including updates on SCF’s plugfest program.

On operational and deployment requirements, including regulatory frameworks, backhaul and sites, the topics discussed were:

  • •  Deployment processes (NGMN)
  • •  Cabling and transport for x-Haul (TIA and MEF)
  • •  Influencing government and regulatory environments (GSMA and CTIA).

You can download the full report here.