Software and interoperability at the top of the Small Cell Forum's to-do list

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Edge computing, orchestration, self-organising networks and interoperability will be the main items on the 2019 agenda for the Small Cells Forum.

The organisation said it wanted to lay out "clear and cost effective" paths for operators to roll out dense networks. It is anticipating software driven and automated 5G networks will have a knock-on effect on small cell technology, which has been seen as a means of underpinning the technology.

It highlighted edge computing as one area of interest, noting that a common plan of action was essential to avoid fragmentation while supporting the different deployment methods of various operators. Self-organising networks was another area that needed greater work within the small cell context, it added.

The Forum said attention was also required to explore how enterprises can benefit from the technology, how 5G would interwork with Wi-Fi and how a 5G small cell would power massive IoT applications.

The organisation announced its plans after a series of Densification Summits for operators and vendors that it held in India, China and the United States.

[Read more: RAN market to benefit from desire to densify networks, new report claims]

David Orloff, Chair of Small Cell Forum, said: “Many industries are looking to use mobile technology to transform their processes and services, so the Forum has been as active in gathering enterprise requirements as those of operators.

"As with operators, each organisation’s business goals may be different, but they will only be able to access interoperable, affordable and easily deployable technology if there are common platforms.

“Our approach brings together enterprises, operators, vendors and other stakeholders, working collectively to tackle a wide variety of challenges and business models.”

The Forum said it was also planning to lobby for a "transparent and rational" regulatory framework to help operators and enterprises roll out small cells. It said barriers still remain for telcos wishing to deploy small cells at scale.