The Small Cell Forum, the independent industry and operator association that supports small cell deployment worldwide, launched the next step of its Release Program that will help harness the vast potential of the urban small cell market at MWC 2014.
Release Three: Urban Foundations has been developed to help operators with the rollout of small cells in the important public access arena. It builds on two earlier releases that focused on the established market for residential small cells (Release One) and the growing market for enterprise small cells (Release Two).
Release Three addresses a step change in market evolution: the commercial deployment of small cells in the urban environment. It establishes the business case and market drivers for urban small cells. It also identifies and starts to address many of the technical, economic and operational challenges to successful deployment and the opportunities this market could offer.
As part of its Release Three output, the Forum commissioned an independent operator survey from consulting firm Maravedis-Rethink. The survey found that capacity, value-added services and the opportunity to integrate Wi-Fi were among the most commonly cited market drivers for urban small cells. Backhaul, optimal site acquisition, monetisation and network management were identified as the primary concerns.
Release Three addresses these varied issues realistically and coherently. Alongside the authoritative body of Small Cell Forum work it can already draw on, this Release includes 18 new and updated documents aimed at identifying demand and supporting operators in the deployment of urban small cells.
These range from economic and commercial issues such as market drivers, business case and service opportunities to technical areas such as self-organising networks, backhaul, Wi-Fi integration and network architecture as well as regulatory challenges and deployment processes.
Gordon Mansfield, chairman of the Small Cell Forum said: 'Release Three focuses on establishing the need, evaluating the business case and identifying key barriers to commercial deployment of urban small cells. In Release Four and beyond, we will delve into the detail of the technical solutions that will speed deployments in this exciting new market.
'The Small Cell Forum unequivocally believes the case for urban small cells to be a strong one. But small cells cannot meet growing user demand quickly and efficiently without practical and informed support and guidance. That is why Release Three is so important.
'I believe small cells will have a pivotal role for operators in viable network densification — the development of HetNets that efficiently and cost-effectively combine macro and small cell rollout,' said Mansfield.
Release Three is available to download from the Small Cell Forum Release site www.scf.io