Small Cell Forum published a new toolkit for the Enterprise small cell market at Mobile World Congress last week (22-25 February 2016). Release Six: Smart Enterprise provides technical, commercial and practical guidance, tools, and data for operators, vendors and businesses looking at the small cell market.
With independent research showing that 60% of businesses expect to have deployed small cell technology by the end of next year, and enterprise small cell shipments doubling in 2015 and forecast to grow almost four-fold this year; Small Cell Forum has issues Release Six to deliver a comprehensive guide to serving the enterprise market and how to deliver new solutions and services using small cells.
Release Six: Smart Enterprise features a wide range of live case studies showing how Enterprise small cells are being used today as well as detailing the operator and enterprise business case for their deployment.
Speaking to Wireless at Mobile World Congress, Alan Law, chair of Small Cell Forum, said: ‘Release Six has all the practical guidance and knowledge you need to know to make the most of small cells within enterprises. It is essentially 14 documents as it goes into the other kinds of services you can run over small cells besides benefiting from good coverage and capacity.’
Law pointed to the growing file of use cases on the Small Cell Forum website illustrating the benefits of small cells for enterprises, along with endorsements from end users. ‘The more confidence we can share about small cells, the more that will boost adoption,’ he said.
The guide includes a number of documents and reports devoted to the enterprise market including:
• Independent research looking at business attitudes and needs for small cells
• A growing library of worldwide operator deployment case studies
• A guide to enterprise small cell deployment made simple
• IT considerations in enterprise small cell deployments
• Enterprise small cell architecture planning
• The demand for enterprise small cells by vertical market sector
• Guidance on small cell APIs for enterprise-app developers.
Multi-operator small cells
The research contained in Release Six also reveals that multi-operator small cells are seen as key within the enterprise market – especially in retail outlets or within corporations operating a BYOD policy – and that businesses are also looking to augment rather than replace Wi-Fi connections. Both of these areas are addressed within the publication.
The Forum’s multi-operator small cells working group provides detailed information on the market drivers for multi-operator, neutral host small cells, and also looks at the regulatory market challenges.
Commenting on the demand for multi-operator small cell solutions to rival distributed antenna systems (DAS), Law observed that he thought the single carrier small cell solution is still an attractive play in some circumstances and that not all enterprises are looking for a multi-operator core network (MOCN) solution.
Meanwhile, the working group looking at the use of License-exempt spectrum has produced a report on The Future of Voice that discusses the technology merits of small cell voice in a HetNet world. This group has also worked on the integrated architecture requirement for a trusted Enterprise Wireless LAN featuring licensed and unlicensed spectrum.
Law told Wireless: ‘The Release Six document The Future of Voice looks at how do we assure you get the best voice quality over both unlicensed and licensed spectrum. The document goes through all the benefits in performance and assesses each of the different technologies, such as LTE-U and LAA and explains how if you are looking to deliver assured voice this is what you should do.’
Law added that there is still more work to do on Licensed-exempt as the standards for each of the different options have not been fully written yet. Tackling the vexed issue of ‘listen before talk’ to ensure fair usage of unlicensed spectrum, Law felt that in practice cellular operators would ‘play fair’ no matter what technology was being used.
‘When you have one asset such as a small cell that understands what is happening in both unlicensed and licensed spectrum, then you can schedule accordingly on both technologies. If you trying to schedule a downlink, the small cell will look at what is the best way of doing it – if it sees a free channel it will use that.’
Law added: ‘If you take many enterprises, they have often already deployed a WiFi network and no operator will want to mess with that. With the way they use voice and data use is changing you’ll need to know what the consequences of using LTE-U or LAA are.
‘You need to know you still have the capability for the WiFi to do the things the enterprise relies on it for and that it will not be affected by LAA being used,’ explained Law. ‘What you are trying to do is make the enterprise work faster, slicker and more efficiently by capitalising on the extra capacity available in unlicensed spectrum.’
Law said that the Small Cell Forum uses what it calls a ‘champions model, which hooks up a major operator who has an interest in a solution with a major vendor. ‘We look for a strong operator and a strong vendor voice in anything we do so it is balanced. In this case we have Vodafone and Qualcomm looking at LTE-U, LAA and so on.’
Looking further forward, Release Six: Smart Enterprise also considers capacity planning for HetNets, the business opportunities for small cells in M2M and IoT, and use cases for small cells in virtualised networks.
Summing up Release Six, Law said: ‘This enterprise-focused Release delivers across on the board on the six key areas identified by our operator members as crucial to the development of the small cells market.
‘It majors on the needs of the fast-growing enterprise sector, but also looks to the future by taking us forward on the development of multi-operator small cells, the use of License-exempt spectrum, on network virtualisation, and capacity planning in a HetNet environment.’
‘The Forum’s Release Program has proven to be incredibly popular with operators, small cell vendors and the wider mobile community,’ added Law. ‘Since we launched the programme in 2013 we have had 132,000 downloads and the guidance, data, business and technical support they contain continue to fuel the growth and expansion of the market.’
You can download Small Cell Forum Release 6: Smart Enterprise at www.scf.io
See also: 60% of enterprises expect to deploy small cells by end of 2017