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SCF Report Shows Small Cells Hold the Key to Unlocking Private Cellular Network Opportunity

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Detailed Market Research and Business Modelling Shows Spectrum, Technology and Cost Benefits Offered by Small Cells in LTE and 5G Private Networks

London, UK Tuesday 28th April 2020 - 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 here: https://www.smallcellforum.org/private-networks.

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 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

Media Contact
Richard Howson
Temono for Small Cell Forum
richard@temono.com