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Small Cell Forum Tackles Urban, Virtualization

Sarah Thomas

Kicking off this week's Small Cell World Summit in London, the Small Cell Forum is offering up its Release 4 how-tos and guidelines with a focus on urban deployments. The Forum's chairman, however, expects discussions to center upon virtualization at this year's show.

Gordon Mansfield, Small Cell Forum Ltd. chairman and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s AVP of small cell solutions, says that the Forum was able to build its latest release on key learnings from recent small cell deployments in Asia and North America, such as AT&T's Disney deployment, Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU)'s work in major urban subway systems in Asia, and China Unicom Ltd. (NYSE: CHU)'s small cell deployment at the Beijing airport. Release four breaks down the details of how to deploy public access small cells, he says. (See AT&T Deploys Small Cells & More at Disney.)

The latest release, available for download here, also includes tips to overcome backhaul challenges, build a business case, and tackle security and regulatory issues. Mansfield says backhaul and site acquisition remain the two biggest challenges. (See Poll: Backhaul Holds Up City Small Cells and Small Cells Mean Big Backhaul Challenges.)

"By opening up all [backhaul] options, that effectively starts to overcome that barrier, but an operator has to get past the vision they have in a macro environment where they have backhaul applied everywhere to having a handful of backhaul options in their tool box to use for different locations."

The Small Forum started its release program back at Mobile World Congress 2013 and has since seen 60,000 downloads of its documents. Release five, focused on rural and remote (think planes, trains, and automobiles) deployments will be launched at MWC next February. (See Small Cell Forum Intros Program to Speed Deployments.)

Small Cell Forum's Release Schedule
Release five will focus on rural deployments, as well as remote locations like planes, trains, and automobiles.
Release five will focus on rural deployments, as well as remote locations like planes, trains, and automobiles.

Virtualization in focus
Urban and rural deployments may be the focus of the Forum's releases, but Mansfield admits what's top of mind for all of its member companies is virtualization. Right now, it's mostly just talk, he says, but low-power apps are driving the need for virtualized small cell use cases. He says this will first take place in dense urban areas where there are lots of nodes to carry traffic.

"When people talk about 5G, that's all about small cells and lower power units," Mansfield says. "That requires virtualized apps."

Radisys, AirHop, and Broadcom join forces on SON
In other small cell news from the show this week, Radisys Corp. (Nasdaq: RSYS), AirHop Communications Inc. , and Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) announced they are integrating their products to enable a Self-Organizing Network (SON) platform for LTE and LTE-Advanced small cell networks.

Specifically, AirHop's eSon software is being integrated into Radisys' Trillium LTE TOTALeNodeB platform using Broadcom's small cell silicon. The trio says this allow operators to deploy interference management functionality in their networks quickly. It's currently being trialed with undisclosed mobile operators.

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) this week also launched a Small Cell Enterprise Select program to help mobile operators certify Cisco partners for use in their enterprise deployments.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Sabre
6/11/2014 | 1:47:01 PM
Come a long way
Small cells have had a long arduous journey to finally get to this point.

I'm especially looking forward to some of the implementations in release 5, which has the potential to bring some real interesting services which can be done so much better than Bluetooth. For example; imagine any car automatically adjusting itself to the individual no matter if they were ever in that car before...
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