Small Cell Forum release aims to stimulate vendor competition


The Small Cell Forum (SCF) has published new specifications focused on promoting a competitive ecosystem among vendors of 5G small cell hardware, software and equipment.

The release includes updates to SCF’s 5G Physical Layer API specification, published in July 2019, as well as APIs for radio frequency (RF) and digital front-end control, and for network monitor mode. The updates also add support for beamforming, mmWave and 5G New Radio (NR) timing requirements.

The new specifications aim to enable small cells to be constructed “piece-by-piece” using components from different vendors to make it easier to address diverse 5G use cases.

“The 5G-FAPI specification suite enhances and adds to the existing set of 3G and 4G specifications, which have played a significant part in growing the market for small cells by enabling a broad multi-vendor ecosystem,” said Dr Prabhakar Chitrapu, SCF Chair and Lead MTS – AT&T Converged Access and Device Technology.


The release is part of the SCF’s Functional API (FAPI) initiative, which aims to encourage competition among suppliers by providing common APIs.

“5G-era networks will be very different from their predecessors, often disaggregated, with radio and baseband processes split in various ways between the cloud/data-centres and the cell site. They will also be very dense, with large numbers of small cells enhancing capacity to enable new classes of applications,” said Dr Chitrapu.

“One of the most important parts [of] the SCF’s remit is to create the right conditions for an open, multi-vendor ecosystem to flourish, driving competition and innovation. We anticipate that 5G FAPI will be universally adopted and implemented in all 5G-RAN products, irrespective of which disaggregation network architecture is deployed.”