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Small cells, SON will be central to 5G

Small Cell Forum: ‘HetNets and 5G are inherently based around density and small cells’

With the publication June 29 of its Release 7, the Small Cell Forum focuses on the centrality of self-organizing network (SON) technology to next-generation 5G networks.

Small Cell Forum Chairman Alan Law stressed the importance of SON to current networks and as-yet unstandardized 5G networks. “The mobile industry is awash with 5G predictions and roadmaps, but what operators need urgently is a clear and pragmatic process to enhance their current platforms, and prepare the groundwork for the next generation.”

In the approach to 5G, HetNets–defined by Small Cell Forum as “multi-x environment–multi-technology, multi-domain, multi-spectrum, multi-operator and multi-vendor”–can be deployed for 4G networks following best practices that smooth a later transition to 5G.

Release 7 covers the following aspects of HetNet:

  • License-exempt spectrum – LTE-LAA and -LWA, carrier Wi-Fi, voice issues, and trusted WLAN architecture recommendations;
  • Multi-operator and neutral host – market drivers, technology enablers and regulatory issues;
  • Interoperability issues – the SON API, the latest Plugfest details, and work on X2 for cellular/Wi-Fi convergence;
  • Easy deployment guide including the latest developments in backhaul;
  • nFAPI – detailed definition of virtualised small cell MAC/PHY decomposition.

“At over 14 million shipments, the small cell is nothing short of a revolution in network densification, and simply would not have been possible without SON,” David Orloff of Small Cell Forum said. “The simplicity of the user experience belies the sophistication of the underlying SON features which ensure the newly deployed cells integrate seamlessly into existing HetNets.”

Click here for a closer look at Release 7.

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