Small Cell Forum updates its technical specs to focus on urban deployments

Guy Daniels
By Guy Daniels

Jun 10, 2014

Urban backhaul scenarios © Small Cell Forum

Urban backhaul scenarios © Small Cell Forum

At the opening of the Small Cells World Summit in London today, the Small Cells Forum announced the availability of Release Four of its technical specifications. Building on the work done in the previous release, the new document focuses on urban small cell networks. The Forum’s Urban output now comprises more than 20 documents, identifying key drivers to deploy small cells and demonstrating how the business case can be evaluated.

Urban deployment is still a relatively new area for small cells, although they are already installed in parts of the world in streets, terminals, businesses and public venues. In theory, they can offer enhanced services and improved revenue generation. But it comes with many technical challenges.

The Forum says the areas addressed in Release Four will be vital to the long-term success of urban small cell networks, and include: content management for traffic growth; location technologies for revenue generation and usage; and X2 interoperability for multi-vendor HetNets. In addition, new approaches to network architecture will need to be found and the issue of backhaul needs to be thoroughly tested.

The new Release identifies operators’ main barriers to commercial deployment and looks at the work underway across the industry to address them, developing solutions in the different disciplines of network architecture, radio access, backhaul, deployment, regulatory and services and security.

As well as providing technical content, Release Four also includes an overview of the urban release program together with a series of case studies.

One case study that might find its way into the Forum’s next release is a trial in southern England, which was also announced this morning.

UK infrastructure and media services company Arqiva has been trialling small cell backhaul technology in Southampton city centre. It has worked with vendors including Intracom, CCS and Siklu, together with mobile network operators to help define the scope of the trials, which is due to complete at the end of June

“Consumers nowadays agree that connecting to the internet is critical, and that regardless of network or device, that connectivity should be seamless and hassle-free,” said Nicolas Ott, Managing Director of Telecoms for Arqiva. “This is a challenge in dense urban areas where buildings can block the signal and mobile networks are congested with traffic, even with the growth in 4G. We’ve already seen this in the USA and Asia. Small cells will be a key technology to address these challenges.”

Intracom provided its StreetNode product in what it claims was a worldwide first demonstration in the field of a small cell backhaul radio operating at 2048 QAM modulation and providing almost 1Gbit/s capacity. CCS provided its self-organising and aligning microwave backhaul solution, to demonstrate savings in manual labour costs.

Earlier this year, Arqiva won the exclusive rights to provide outdoor wireless connectivity in Southampton, together with a number of London Boroughs and other city centres, including Manchester.

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