Fragmentation "biggest risk" to 5G success, claims Small Cell Forum

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Fragmentation is the biggest risk to 5G becoming a success, the Small Cell Forum has claimed, as it launched its first workshop to examine what role the technology will play in future networks.

The industry body has been working on the deployment of dense HetNets, which it said would play a critical role in data-rich 5G networks.

SCF Chair David Orloff said: “Fragmentation represents the single biggest risks to 5G achieving its full potential. Proprietary and pre-standard efforts, and closed-doors partnerships, threaten the creation of a unified platform which is commercially accessible to all.

“The Forum has always been committed to open architectures and transparent, inclusive processes, and these are even more important as 5G approaches. With the support of our membership, the Forum has a central role to making these next generation networks a success.”

Discussions at the workshop, which included representatives from AT&T, Vodafone, Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia, centred on understanding the service requirements for 5G, as well as associated technology such as SON, network slicing, self-backhauling and mmWave.

Other priorities for the small cell industry include working out how best to take advantage of virtualisation, automation and orchestration.

[Watch: 5G World - Enrico Salvatori, Qualcomm]

Outgoing SCF Chair Alan Law added: “Harmonisation is essential even before 3GPP publishes its specifications for 5G, so that common requirements are fed into the deliberation and development process. The best route to protect operators from fragmentation is to achieve harmony in the higher layers of the network, with common specs and APIs to enable unified network management, orchestration, security and applications – whatever the underlying access network.”

A further workshop will be held in Dallas in November at the next plenary of the Small Cell Forum.