Small Cell Forum in standards move for private cellular
The industry’s main proponent of small cells has started a programme to expand the technology in enterprise and industry.
The Small Cell Forum (SCF), which mainly represents mobile operators, says it wants to achieve “scalable and sustainable multi-technology private cellular networks”.
The initiative is being led by Ravi Sinha, director of technology development and solutions at Reliance Jio. He said: “With the advent of the 5G era and the expanding mobile ecosystem, there is increasing need to anticipate the technologies, specifications and blueprints needed to drive the industries and connected cities of the future.”
The SCF believes that there were just over 1.5 million deployments of small cells in private wireless enterprise networks in 2020. But that number is rising fast, and it expects there to be more than 3 million in 2026.
“However, such projections will only be fully realised if barriers are removed as quickly as possible,” said the SCF, which said: “36% of enterprise-focused deployers said they would roll out more quickly if more plug-and-play deployment were enabled, for instance, something that would be addressed by interoperability certification and by simplified equipment enabled by common reference designs.”
The SCF said it wants to go beyond technical specifications to provide common guidelines, based on real world experience, for deployment in specific scenarios and industries, and for specific purposes.
Sinha said: “For vendors, deployers and operators, and their customers, the technology roadmap is becoming increasingly complex. We aim to develop practical, use-case focused blueprints that not only cut through that complexity, but also provide robust, scalable and sustainable solutions for key verticals.”
The SCF said it “continues to focus on private networks to bridge the gap between the capabilities of available and emerging technologies, and the availability of a range of services that can scale to suit differing business requirements”.
The forum, which is chaired by Prabhakar Chitrapu, a senior systems engineer at Lockheed Martin, commented: “Existing solutions for private, enterprise cellular networks have been tailored to single use-cases. The industry needs flexible, yet specific, end-to-end blueprints for scalable private networks that can be systematically replicated across multiple user scenarios.”
Chitrapu added: “Our blueprints will leverage existing work from SCF and partner organisations, recruit new members and partner with external organisations to address the needs of vendors, deployers, especially in enterprise and industry. Working with specialist partners, we will also aim to address the topic of badging and certification, which should ensure cost-effective scalable solutions for the digital transformation of enterprise and Industry 4.0.”