Small Cell Forum makes the case for urban deployments

BARCELONA, Spain--The Small Cell Forum continued its educational program for operators with the third release in an ongoing series, this one focused on deploying the diminutive base stations in outdoor urban areas.

"Release Three: Urban Foundations" was introduced at a press event during the Mobile World Congress trade show here. The collection of documents builds upon two earlier educational releases that focused on small cells in residences and the enterprise, respectively. The forum is already planning a follow-up release for June, which will include a deeper dive into urban small cell deployment issues.  

A fifth release is penciled in, though a topic has not been publicly identified. Plans for that release will likely be sorted out at the forum's plenary this April in Singapore.

This latest release on urban deployments includes 17 new and revised documents. "A lot of these revised documents are pretty big revisions," said Gordon Mansfield, the forum's chairman. Mansfield is also AT&T's (NYSE:T) associate vice president of small cells

Topics addressed in the release include synchronization for LTE small cells, using SON for load balancing across HetNets, new models for urban deployment scenarios, urban backhaul solutions, and regulatory issues as well as urban service models and APIs.

Also among the documents is a white paper that was produced in collaboration with the Wireless Broadband Alliance regarding next-generation hotspot-based integrated small cell Wi-Fi.

Mark Grayson, Cisco Distinguished Consulting Engineer and a member of the Small Cell Forum's steering committee, said the group intends to maintain an ongoing collaboration with WBA that will produce more research.

The forum has identified four primary market drivers for urban outdoor small cells: capacity, coverage, user experience and value-added services. Mansfield said the business case is built around the concept of offering small cells in high-density locations on an open-access basis to all customers of a particular operator.

As part of the release three output, the forum commissioned an operator survey from Maraedis-Rethink. Tier 1 and 2 operators that responded indicated their primary concerns regarding urban small cell rollouts revolve around backhaul, optimal site acquisition, monetization and network management.

Grayson noted that the Small Cell Forum's release program is helping drive forward the small cell industry and is already having marketplace impact. Information from the previous release, published in December 2013, "is making it into RFPs" from mobile operators already, he said.

For more:
- see this Small Cell Forum release

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Jarich: 10 things I hate about small cells
Mobile operators draw a new small cell order in 2014
Fixed/Mobile convergence draws near
Report: Small cells market returning to growth in 2013

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