A list of the topics covered at the meeting in Ljubljana, Slovenia, is posted on the 3G and 4G Wireless Blog, and it offers good insight into how some operators and vendors think mobile networks need to evolve and adapt to cope with ever-rising levels of data traffic while using a finite amount of spectrum, and how to do it all as cost effectively as possible.
There were presentations from more than 50 member operators and equipment suppliers, many of which are available here. The meeting sought to identify the requirements for future RAN technologies as well as to plan some potential work for the 3GPP's Release 12 set of specifications, which is scheduled for completion in 2014.
Not surprisingly, small cells were a big talking point at the workshop, as the 3GPP noted that a majority of members expressed interest in "enhanced small cell for LTE." Some of the proposals for the standards body to work on in this area included "interference coordination/management; dynamic [time division duplex]; enhanced discovery/mobility; frequency separation between macro and small cells -- using higher frequency bands in small cells (e.g., 3.5GHz); inter-site carrier aggregation/macro cell assisted small cells; and wireless backhaul for small cells," according to the 3GPP.
There was also interest in interworking with Wi-Fi, 3D MIMO and beamforming antennas, as well as control signaling reduction.
With so much attention being given to small cells, carrier Wi-Fi and advanced antennas -- just to name a few technology trends -- it's safe to say the RAN is set for some radical changes, and that the 3GPP certainly will be busy. (See MWC 2011: The End of the RAN as We Know It? and Hello, Small Cells; Goodbye, Cell Towers.)
— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile