Small Cell Forum to tackle multi-operator and license-free small cells

The Small Cell Forum formally established six teams that will tackle specific work areas, including small cells in unlicensed spectrum, 5G and multi-operator small cells.

In what the forum calls "operator Champions," representatives from operators work alongside vendors in each of the initiatives. The groups were organized during the Small Cell Champions Day hosted this month by the forum at its European plenary in Rome.  

In the license-exempt initiative, Small Cell Forum Chairman Alan Law, a distinguished engineer at Vodafone, is working in collaboration with Caleb Banke, senior marketing manager at Qualcomm Technologies (NASDAQ:QCOM). This team is looking at the "implications, opportunities and requirements in the small cell market from the broad use of license-free spectrum to significantly increase coverage and capacity to boost the mobile user experience while making optimum use of available spectrum," according to a forum press release.

Qualcomm has been one of the biggest champions, alongside U.S. operators like Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS), for using LTE-U in unlicensed spectrum. Supporters of LTE-U say it makes Wi-Fi access points behave better in unlicensed spectrum, but many in the Wi-Fi community are pressing for more tests and proof that LTE isn't going to harmfully interfere with Wi-Fi users. The Small Cell Forum is likely going to look at all the variants of using LTE in unlicensed spectrum, including Licensed Assisted Access (LAA), which is the version the 3GPP is working on.

As for the multi-operator initiative, the goal there is to make sure small cells are the preferred solution for delivering multi operator (neutral host) applications across vertical markets. That effort is being led by Truphone's head of Research & Development James Body with vendor support from Nick Johnson, founder and CTO of ip.access.

The working group on 5G, M2M and the Internet of Things will be directed by Tareq Amin, senior vice president, Wireless Network of Jio, supported by Ray Williamson, director of product management at Huawei.

Other groups will focus on virtualization, which includes software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV); the enterprise, which looks at the rapidly growing enterprise small cell market; and HetNet/SON, which is being directed by David Orloff, director, Small Cells Platforms at AT&T (NYSE: T) in partnership with Martin Ljungberg, strategic project manager at Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) and Joe Thorne of AirHop Communications.

While the programs are running in parallel, the Small Cell Forum said it expects the enterprise program will be the first to deliver results to the marketplace, with initial information scheduled to publish in time for Mobile World Congress 2016, which takes place Feb. 22-25 in Barcelona.

For more:
- see this RCR Wireless News article
- see this release

Related articles:
Small Cell Forum tackles 5G in Release 5.1
AT&T drops goal of deploying 40,000 small cells by end of 2015, citing benefits of Leap deal
Madden: Small cells are finally taking off
Small Cell Forum's new chairman is bullish on virtualization

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