Small Cell Forum launches Release One in new programme to drive operator deployments

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26th February 2013 - Mobile World Congress, Barcelona – The Small Cell Forum, the independent industry and operator association that supports small cell deployment worldwide, today announced Small Cell Release One. This is the first deliverable in its Release programme, which helps operators by providing all the information they need to successfully launch the technology in one easily digestible package. The theme of Release One is the Home, providing the complete body of work that operators will need to know in order to deploy residential femtocells. Release One also contains significant advanced work on future releases, including enterprise, metro, and rural small cells.

Release One is aimed at operators who have waited to deploy residential small cells until the market and technology were proven while also assisting operators planning newer enterprise, metro and rural rollouts. It provides all the business case and technical detail, including recommended equipment specifications for RFPs, together with best practice from the operators which have successfully deployed femtocells in scale. Release One also contains cutting edge information aimed at assisting new enterprise, metro and rural deployments, including two major new whitepapers on backhaul and rural rollouts, addressing concerns widely raised by carriers, as well as an operator agreement on key requirements for public access small cells:

• The rural small cell whitepaper finds that the there are no barriers preventing the technology from being used to bridge the digital divide in both developed and developing markets. In fact, a representative business case shows that even in comparatively lower revenue developing markets which require expensive satellite backhaul, operators can achieve $50K profit per site per year – rising to $196K in developed markets. This is hugely important in addressing the digital divide and as part of initiatives for reaching the next billion users.

• The backhaul whitepaper concludes that backhaul does not constitute a barrier to public access small cell deployments. It finds that the full-range of use cases ranging from high-traffic urban hotspots to rural blackspots can be efficiently managed using fibre, copper, and wireless backhaul techniques. Backhaul has been viewed as a major constraint to small cell deployments: this paper shows how those worries may have been over-stated and that feasible solutions are commercially available today.

• Having already brought together the operator community to agree the key requirements for residential small cells, the Forum is now developing the key requirements for future public access vendor equipment. This includes enhancements to the Iuh small cell standard for public access, fully open X2 interoperability for LTE products and enhancements to provisioning that support multi-technology (3G, LTE & Wi-Fi) small cells. These requirements will drive the Forum’s work to facilitate future public access deployments which will form a key focus of future Releases.

Over the next 12 months, the Forum will publish Release Two which will contain significant updates on enterprise small cells and Release Three on metrocells. Crucially, these will include lessons from the deployments currently taking place as well as evolving approaches and standards. Subsequent Releases will contain major updates to rural and multi-technology small cells which intelligently integrate 3G, LTE and Wi-Fi, reflecting the work the Forum is undertaking with the Wireless Broadband Alliance.

“The small cell industry is at a defining moment. Over 98% of operators think small cells are essential to their future and femtocells alone outnumber macrocells globally and are expected to constitute over 85% of all base stations by 2017. Yet existing deployments have centred on almost 50 pioneering and mostly very large operators in developed markets. How do we help the next 150, more conservative, operators of all sizes from across the globe roll out small cells of all types?” said Gordon Mansfield, Chairman of the Small Cell Forum. “Our new Release programme is expressly designed to overcome this challenge. Each Release provides everything an operator needs to know to profitably roll out small cells successfully and with minimal risk. Other organisations use formal Release programmes to powerful effect, including the Broadband Forum and 3GPP to drive uptake of technologies like DSL, fibre optic and 4G.”

Each Release contains a concise summary of everything an operator needs to know to deploy small cells as well as detailed documents on key areas such as market drivers, business case, key technology information including standards, operator lessons, regulatory information and a profile of recommended equipment specifications that can be requested in RFPs. Release One is freely available from the Small Cell Forum Release site except the profile which is only available to Small Cell Forum members –

Supporting Quotes:

Adrian Scrase, ETSI CTO, Head of 3GPP Mobile competence Centre: “This programme enhances the role of the Forum as a key Market Representation Partner in 3GPP, one that effectively brings the requirements of its members in to the standardization environment.  2013 is the year of Small Cells and 3GPP looks forward to enhanced cooperation as our specifications take their place in the equipment profiles that are at the heart of the Small Cell Forum Release Programme.”

Robin Mersh, CEO of the Broadband Forum: “Combining agreed best practices and open standards into one release provides an important resource for driving the growth of small cells. At the heart of all successful communication technologies are common approaches that make interoperability possible. We are pleased the BBF broadband management standard TR-196 is central to the latest standardised small cell deployments.”

Shrikant Shenwai, CEO of the Wireless Broadband Alliance: “We’re proud to be working with the Forum to help this future vision of converged mobile and public Wi-Fi networks become a reality. A vital part of the cooperation between Wireless Broadband Alliance and Small Cell Forum will focus on how best to integrate public Wi-Fi hotspots with licensed small cells so operators can deliver the best possible broadband experience.”

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