New analysis outlines significant market opportunities and details work required to realize the potential of combined small cell/edge solutions
London, UK, 10th June 2020 Small Cell Forum (SCF) today published research setting out how edge computing will impact the future of small cell networks, with particular focus on private cellular networks. A survey of service providers for the paper shows that by 2025 almost 75% new indoor small cell deployments will be co-located with edge and/or private EPC. The paper is available to download here: https://scf.io/en/documents/234_Edge_Computing_and_Small_Cell_Networks.php
Edge Computing and Small Cell Networks identifies core synergies between edge computing (EC) and small cell networks (SCNs) and highlights how those synergies are present across multiple domains – business, technical, deployment, product and vendor ecosystems.
It describes how the benefits of small cells co-located with edge can be applied to commercial and operational advantage in key industry segments, such as automation and Industry 4.0, worksites, mission critical services, enterprises and public safety. The paper looks in detail at the architectures and deployment considerations for edge and small cells in three premises-based use cases:
- Fully private cellular networks (PCNs)
- PCNs that have a roaming relationship with MNO networks
- PCNS integrated with MNO networks
While small cells and edge computing have significant potential to meet enterprise demand and drive new business models for service providers, best practice needs to be agreed and adopted, and technical barriers/gaps addressed to optimize that potential for both enterprises and service providers. Key areas of focus include:
- Edge network recommendations: For edge computing solutions, the ‘edge network’ has to work in concert with the ‘core network’ via open interfaces and APIs to enable true multi-vendor ecosystem. SCF believes that current specifications are incomplete and need enhancements.
- Edge platform services and applications recommendations: Open and consistent APIs across multiple organizations must evolve and align to enable a broad ecosystem of edge platform services and edge applications.
- EC platform solution recommendations: Blueprints/reference-designs/solutions for open-source edge computing platforms are urgently required for rapid growth of the EC ecosystem.
- EC and small cell recommendations: Design/deployment blueprints must be available for core use cases to best leverage small cell/edge synergies to deliver multiple benefits: shared virtualized implementations leading to cost efficiencies; integrated network functions & mutually beneficial analytics (radio environment, RAN characteristics, location etc.) leading to advanced functionalities to the edge computing platforms.
- EC infrastructure recommendations: In determining the COTS hardware for optimal edge computing infrastructure, service providers and enterprises shouldn’t be tempted to reinvent the wheel. There are already robust guidelines for data center & hardware design & implementations from TIA, BICSI and OCP that should be followed.
‘The benefits of edge computing are well known, but what we have begun to demonstrate with this work is that small cells and edge will be critical for enabling service providers and enterprises to realize new profitable service opportunities,’ said Dr. Prabhakar Chitrapu, Chair of Small Cell Forum. ‘Small cells plus edge will also enable new business models for a broad spectrum of stakeholders, including edge infrastructure, edge network and edge platform as a service, as well as direct edge application services to subscribers, enterprises and service providers.’
Going forward, working in collaboration with other relevant Industry Forums, SCF will lead the development of a set of harmonized and consistent set of application, network & system-level APIs to enable small cell networks to facilitate EC services and applications.
SCF will also spearhead the deployment of design blueprints for core use cases, leveraging small cell/edge synergies and open source environments.
The research was made possible by an extended collaboration of leading MNOs, OEMs and Infrastructure providers, brought together by Small Cell Forum, including; American Tower, AT&T, Crown Castle, Druid, Intel, Nokia and Reliance Jio.
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 our 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
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