Small Cell Forum: Europe risks falling behind in smart cities, IIoT

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Small Cell Forum, the telecoms organization driving network densification worldwide, has welcomed a report urging more urgency and innovation in the development of Europe’s communications infrastructure.

According to a new report from Rethink Technology Research, fragmented regulation and the need for greater urgency from larger MNOs mean Europe is currently falling well behind North America and the larger Asian economies in the densification of mobile networks.

The result, the report argues, means European networks will be ill-prepared for some of the key 5G-enabled use cases, such as industrial IoT and smart cities. That, in turn, risks making the EU less able to compete on the world stage.

Based on a survey of the deployment plans of European operators, as the region evolves from 4G to 5G, the report’s findings are supported by a number of distinguished analysts.

Caroline Gabriel, Rethink’s Research Director, says: ‘One reason Europe is falling behind is that regulations and processes surrounding sites, power levels and equipment approvals have for some time been too rigid, lengthy and fragmented to encourage mass-scale roll-out.

‘This report is saying that Europe doesn’t need to lose out economically or in terms of service provision. If regulators are willing to create a flexible, open framework for small cell deployments, other players will be able to harness densification to fill the gap left by the large operators. In that way, Europe could catch up quickly in 5G use cases which require dense networks – even if the main providers monetizing the new services are not the traditional MNOs.’

David Orloff, Chair, Small Cell Forum, says: ‘This report’s findings reflect many of the barriers SCF has been working to resolve. Recognizing the growing potential in Europe to accelerate densification, SCF is holding a Densification Summit in Sophia Antipolis, France. This event will bring together a number of leading industry bodies and we’ll be considering how our activities in other regions can be adapted to fit the specifics of the European market.’

The EU Densification Summit will take place at ETSI HQ in Sophia Antipolis, April 24 – 26 2018. The working sessions will consider:

  • SCF has defined a long-term investment roadmap where today’s LTE networks are densified and augmented with interworking 5G and shared spectrum radios, and operations expedited by SON and end-to-end automation via NFV, SDN and orchestration. This 5G-era vision is the subject of SCF Release Ten, summarized in [SCF110].
  • SCF is working to mitigate the challenge around small cell siting. Progress in the US being achieved by building industry consensus around siting requirements in terms of size, power and backhaul as well as a streamlined approval process. These act as benchmarks to facilitate discussions with municipalities.
  • SCF is working with the EU commission to help national regulators set policy for local government. SCF is promoting adoption of a harmonised set of small cell installation classes which provide practical design limits for small cell equipment to achieve RF compliance [SCF012]
  • SCF is supporting creation of an ecosystem around smart building certification: Defining practical methods and metrics is helping the real estate industry quantify the value of the good indoor connectivity, as well as helping them understand what they can do to ensure their buildings are ‘small cell ready’.
  • SCF directly engages with verticals via our Enterprise Advisory Council. This group of leading CIOs and IT managers have summarised their requirements in [SCF110], which principally include multi-operator support and some visibility of performance and faults for the small cell network.
  • The success of private LTE and shared spectrum networks may be limited if seamless roaming on to the wide area MNO networks is not established. SCF is progressing this by developing a framework for a roaming SLA.
  • SCF continues to evaluate densification standards and technology to understand its commercial benefits and ensure it is fit for purpose. SON and automation remain high on our list of priorities, as do the NFV enabling xhaul interfaces.

SCF works to accelerate densification by collaborating with a range of industry association partners, ensuring needs are represented and specialist knowledge is made available. It has recently held events in US and India to work with xRAN, ONAP, ETSI, GSMA, NGMN, CTIA, MEF, TIA, 3GPP and CBRS Alliance.