The Small Cell Forum (SCF) today published its analysis of the burgeoning market for small cell-based private networks, outlining market drivers, use cases and recommendations for LTE-based networks, and examining their evolution to 5G. The research shares insights gained by leading deployers of how different public and private sector organisations are benefitting from robust cellular connectivity, customised to their specific applications.
SCF235 Private Cellular Networks with Small Cells is available for download from the SCF website.
The comprehensive paper includes:
- SCF’s market analysis which reveals that, by 2025, the largest adopter of private networks will be local government, including networks to support public safety and smart cities
- A study of new business models created by integrators and third-party providers operating in this space that can work in partnership with MNOs – for instance, by leasing their spectrum or by enabling MNOs to provide services based on a shared network
- Data showing that when deploying private LTE today, small cells have significant cost advantages
- A discussion of the critical need for different spectrum and deployment methods being adopted around the world, such as CBRS in the United States
- Examination of vEPCs supporting RAN-agnostic networks, and the role of edge computing in small cell-based private networks
Private networks are custom designed for the specific needs of an organisation such as an enterprise or local government. They can provide higher quality mobile connectivity than Wi-Fi, and have a more extensive ecosystem of technology suppliers, system integrators and service providers than proprietary solutions. Cellular devices also have the capability to roam seamlessly between private and public global mobile networks.
With LTE technology, new types of spectrum and the emergence of a new breed of service providers, commercial conditions are ripe for enterprises and government to leverage small cell-based private networks for their business-critical and mission-critical connectivity needs. The paper focuses on understanding these early adopters and how they are using private networks to better achieve their organisation goals.
The research was made possible by an extended collaboration of leading private network providers, brought together by Small Cell Forum, including; AT&T, CommScope, Corning, Crown Castle, Ericsson, ExteNet Systems and Reliance Jio.
Keyur Brahmbhatt, lead author and Senior Product Manager at ExteNet Systems, said: “Private LTE networking technology is a significant opportunity for the telco sector that can be deployed today with existing technology, rather than needing to wait for 5G. It has already enabled new business models, tailored service offerings and access to new or difficult to reach verticals, and allows organisations to integrate diverse sensors, machines, people, vehicles and more across a wide range of applications and usage scenarios.”
Dr. Prabhakar Chitrapu, Chair of Small Cell Forum, said: “This paper represents a comprehensive body of work highlighting the clear benefits Small Cells provide in deploying private cellular networks of all types, as well as providing real-world case studies of successful systems. Our future work in this area will focus on how to manage private networks, and the impact 5G will have on private network architectures and technologies. At the heart of this will be collaborations with enterprises to capture detailed requirements specific to key sectors that will benefit most.”
SCF aims to help enterprise, industry and government understand the potential benefits of private networks to support their digital connectivity needs, while helping private network service providers better understand the benefits which are most valued by the different types of customer. The paper identifies barriers to the growth of private networks and recommends industry actions to address them.
About Small Cell Forum:
Small Cell Forum develops the technical and commercial enablers to accelerate small cell adoption and drive wide-scale densification.
Broad roll-out of small cells will make high-grade mobile connectivity accessible and affordable for industries, enterprises and for rural and urban communities. That, in turn, will drive new business opportunities for a widening ecosystem of service providers.
Those service providers are central to our work program. Our operator members establish the requirements that drive the activities and outputs of our technical groups.
We have driven the standardization of key elements of small cell technology including Iuh, FAPI, nFAPI, SON, services APIs, TR-069 evolution and the enhancement of the X2 interface. These specifications enable an open, multi-vendor platform and lower barriers to densification for all stakeholders.
Today SCF members are driving solutions that include:
- 5G Components, Products, Networks
- Dis-aggregated 5G Small Cells
- Planning, Management and Automation
- 5G regulation & safety
- Neutral Hosts & Multi-operator
- Private and Public Network coexistence
- Edge compute with Small Cell Blueprint
- End-to-end orchestration
The Small Cell Forum Release Program has now established business cases and market drivers for all the main use cases, clarifying market needs and addressing barriers to deployment for residential, enterprise, rural & remote, and urban small cells. It has also established initiatives relating to both public and private (MNO) coordination. The Small Cell Forum Release Program website can be found here: www.scf.io
Verizon and the city of San Diego, CA have announced a partnership under which the U.S.’ #1 wireless telco will invest upward of $100 million to deploy as many as 200 energy-efficient light poles that host small cells for 5G wireless, as well as providing the police with 500 smartphones and the fire and rescue department with 50 tablets. The city, in exchange, will ensure a streamlined process for approval of small cells and fiber optic links.
San Diego has pledged to streamline the permitting process for rolling out mobile network “small cells” in a deal with Verizon that could help lay the foundation for bringing 5G technology to the city. Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced the deal in a news conference Monday on Harbor Island. Verizon will spend more than $100 million to install up to 200 power efficient light poles with small cell wireless network gear to improve cellular coverage.
“Verizon is a partner in our effort to enhance wireless capability and lay the groundwork for the future of 5G wireless,” said Faulconer. “This agreement is going to increase services and expand our smart cities capabilities, at no additional costs to taxpayers.”
Small cells — about the size of a pizza box — contain lower power radios and antennas. They add density to the cellular network to boost range and increase the number of smartphone/ endpoint users who can then gain high speed connections to the Internet. This is done via frequency reuse– small cells in one area of town may use the same frequency bands as other small cells in a different part of the city. Small cells are expected to be a key component of high speed 5G mobile networks, which have just begun rolling out in a few cities in the U.S. and South Korea. They have to be mounted on city owned polls or like infrastructure. “Most of these small cells essentially they are on poles, and they blend into the areas to provide that coverage, as well as capacity,” said Ed Chan, Verizon’s senior vice president of engineering.
Verizon plans to install 4G LTE small cells in San Diego under the new program, said Chan. These small cells can be upgraded to 5G technology — either through software updates or the addition of 5G radio equipment. 5G networks aim to deliver speeds 10 times faster than current 4G technologies, with imperceptible transmission delays. They are expected to help power ubiquitous mobile video, self-driving cars, smart cities infrastructure and connected health care devices.
Verizon deployed its first pre-standard mobile 5G networks last week in neighborhoods in Chicago and Minneapolis. It expects to expand to 30 additional cities U.S. by year end. The telco hasn’t named the next 30 cities to get 5G. Chan said to stay tuned. “This will definitely create the foundation to get to 5G” in San Diego, he said.
The city and Verizon have been talking for several months about ways to speed up the permitting process for small cells and fiber optic links. Plans include updating some building codes and allowing “master permits” where the installation of several, similarly designed small cell street-light poles in a neighborhood would fall under one permit, said Ron Villa, assistant chief operating officer with the city.
“We are doing a pilot in Mission Valley where they can permit a whole area all at once, and they don’t have to go through individual permits,” said Villa. “It will be to the advantage of other carriers as well. If we can get this to work, there will be other carriers that will be welcome” to use the streamlined permitting process.
Verizon is providing poles with street lights and will cover installation costs, said Villa. The company will own the poles. In the future, it will provide analysis of traffic patterns and other data to bolster San Diego’s smart cities capabilities.
“From smart streetlights on Mira Mesa Boulevard to weather-based irrigation controllers in Clairemont, innovation is shaping how we are living and working in District 6,” said Council member Chris Cate. “San Diego’s partnership with Verizon will not only benefit San Diegans today, it will help all future generations.”
Samsung Networks is deploying small cells in large volume for indoor coverage for Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio, which is set to have 99% population coverage soon in the country, according a Samsung executive.
“We have seen drive happening on indoor small cells. But that doesn’t mean that outdoor isn’t happening. Outdoor is happening at a good speed basis the site availability and so on… We will continue to expand on this piece of the network [indoor] because there are places where it’s more value to go that way,” Srini Sundararajan, Senior Vice President and Head of Networks Business at Samsung India, told ET.
“Jio tells us what their network requirements are, and we support…indoor always volume looks larger because devices are smaller and are easy to deploy and are self-configured,” he added.
Samsung Networks had earlier this year obtained a new 4G LTE network expansion contract from its sole customer in India, Reliance Jio, to increase the telco’s 4G network penetration from around 75% to 99% by Diwali this year.
The South Korean company is the sole 4G equipment provider to Jio with contracts to supply wireless base station equipment for over 140,000 sites for pan-India coverage last year, ET had earlier reported.
Image courtesy of Economic Times Telecom (India)
Sundararajan said that Jio is expanding its networks for both coverage and capacity needs in the country. “It has to be both. There are still parts of the country we need to increase the coverage. Some of the hilly areas or remote areas. For every project, there is a certain percentage of sites for coverage and a large percentage is for capacity,” he added.
For capacity, Jio has started commercial deployment of massive mimo technology in areas where it is not able to add new sites easily.
In addition to 4G wireless equipment, Samsung is also providing packet core technology to Jio. The executive said that the virtualised packet core will play a crucial role in the 5G scenario. Samsung is currently preparing to conduct 5G field trials in New Delhi in the first quarter of the next year, and is working closely with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
“We have a lot to offer similar to what we did on 4G, and which is why we said that we will partner with the DoT. We are directly partnering with the DoT to ensure that we listen to the needs of the government,” the executive said.
He added that the government’s involvement in these 5G field trials is very crucial for the successful commercial roll out since there will be 5G use cases that will have “societal value” along with the business value.
“The government is very proactively enabling and promoting to grow the 5G network. They are very aware that it is the ecosystem, and not just a vendor or operator. So they tend to bring different players into it to ensure that we are able to provide a high-value system for the country,” he added.
Samsung will be conducting the trial using the millimeter wave (mmwave) spectrum even as other vendors like Huawei plan to conduct trials in the mid-band. Sundararajan said that the millimeter wave band will offer a large chunk of spectrum that can result in uses cases like fixed wireless access (FWA) with huge capacity for data services. “We need to have the technology in the mmwave to enable the true vision of the government,” he said.
Samsung is currently doing 3.5Ghz trials in the mid-band in South Korea, and in the US, we are doing mmwave trials. “We are technology agnostic, but use cases will drive the adoption of one of these bands,” he said.
Global mobile operators will be using small cells to expand the indoor coverage and improve network capacity, improving the quality of telecommunication. Small cells can divert 80 percent of data traffic in crowded areas. Increase in hotspot capacity will make up for areas not covered by macro cells (both indoor and outdoor) to improve network performance and service quality.
Kelly Hsieh, research director of TrendForce, said small cells will achieve higher level of integration, allowing for multi-mode, multi-band deployment, and integrate unlicensed spectrum.
The deployments of small cells – fuelled by 5G — will reach 2.838 million units in 2018 and 4.329 million units in 2019, an annual growth of 52.5 percent. Hsieh said that demand for 5G applications will gradually emerge as consensus on 5G standards and 5G application scenarios are being formed. Particularly, small cells are key to 5G as they can support increasing demand of data performance. It is estimated that the global deployments and installed base of small cells will reach 2.838 million units in 2018 and 4.329 million units in 2019, an annual growth of 52.5%.
The TrendForce report predicts that small cells will upgrade network performance and improve efficiency through indoor digital deployments. Small cells can carry large sum of data transmission brought by Internet of Things (IoT) and integrated wireless backhaul, reducing investment costs significantly.
China Mobile, Verizon, AT&T and SK Telecom are currently making investment for deploying small cell technology to boost customer experience. Therefore, with the development of 5G technology, small cells will become key equipment adopted by global mobile operators. Currently, mobile operators in China, the United States and South Korea are the most active, including China Mobile, Verizon, AT&T, and SK Telecom.
Backgrounder on Small Cells (see IEEE reference below):
Small cells are portable miniature base stations that require minimal power to operate and can be placed every 250 meters or so throughout cities. To prevent signals from being dropped, carriers could blanket a city with thousands of these stations. Together, they would form a dense network that acts like a relay team, handing off signals like a baton and routing data to users at any location.
While traditional cell networks have also come to rely on an increasing number of base stations, achieving 5G performance will require an even greater infrastructure. Luckily, antennas on small cells can be much smaller than traditional antennas if they are transmitting tiny millimeter waves. This size difference makes it even easier to stick cells unobtrusively on light poles and atop buildings.
What’s more, this radically different network structure should provide more targeted and efficient use of spectrum. Having more stations means the frequencies that one station uses to connect with devices in its small broadcast area can be reused by another station in a different area to serve another customer. There is a problem, though: The sheer number of small cells required to build a 5G network may make it impractical to set up in rural areas.