LIVE FROM SMALL CELLS WORLD SUMMIT, LONDON: As part of its ongoing efforts to encourage more operators to roll out small cells, Gordon Mansfield (pictured), chairman of the Small Cell Forum, said that Release Two – a guide to how operators can cost-effectively roll out small cells for enterprises – will be published in December 2013 at the Small Cell Americas event in Dallas, Texas.
The Forum has also set up a Deployment SIG (special interest group) with a brief to produce best practice details related to such things as site acquisition, business models, backhaul planning and maintenance.
Mansfield said one of the aims of Deployment SIG, which will work closely with other Forum SIGs – networks, rural, regulatory and backhaul – is to help regulators better understand small cell technology so they don’t unnecessarily impede operators’ rollout efforts.
“There is clearly a lot to do as 98 per cent of operators think small cells are essential, but there are still about 150 that haven’t deployed them,” explained the Forum’s chairman. “The question then is how do we target these operators?”
To that end, the Forum launched a new release programme at this year’s Mobile World Congress. Designed as a how-to guide for small cell deployment, providing best practice for installation – and giving vendors a clear direction on products based on carrier requirements – Release One focused on 3G femtocell rollouts in homes and small offices.
It is the enterprise segment, however, that is now absorbing most of the Forum’s efforts.
“The Deployment SIG will cover an entire gamut of deployment issues, but I want it to focus on enterprise [this year] so it can feed into Release Two in time for publication in December,” Graham Wright, chief executive of the Small Cell Forum, told Mobile World Live.
Alan Law, new technologies and innovation manager at Vodafone, said there are three main areas that need to be addressed to boost small cell deployment.
“First, there needs to be standardisation, but also there also needs to be availability of multiple technology small cells to reduce the number of boxes,” he said.
Thirdly, Law added that value-added services beyond voice and data will help boost deployment.
He gave one example from Vodafone’s operations in Greece, where retail outlets – using an advertising-funded model – offer free 3G access. Users have to download an app to access the free data, giving Vodafone a potential opportunity to market its services to a wider base.
The Forum’s Release Three, which is focused on metrocell rollouts, is due to be published at next year’s Mobile World Congress.
According to Informa Telecoms & Media, there were around 10.8 million small cells deployed by February 2013, up from 6.4 million at the start of Q4 2012. Of that sum, femtocells account for 9.4 million.
By 2016, Informa predicts that 90 per cent of all cells will be small ones (86 per cent of them being of the femto variety) but public access is where most money will be made. According to Informa, revenues from public access models will top US$16.2 billion by 2016, accounting for nearly three quarters of the overall small cell market total.