Accelerated Densification to Boost Small Cell Deployments by Operators on Road to 5G

The Small Cell Forum (SCF) has published the results of an in-depth survey of over 50 mobile operators, undertaken by Rethink Technology Research. The survey questioned operators’ deployment plans and business drivers for a dense HetNet, as well as the barriers they expect to have to overcome. The results showed that densification has begun in today’s LTE networks and will intensify in the 5G era, enabled by profound changes to the architecture and economics of small cells.

The Small Cell Forum (SCF) forecasts that between 2015 and 2025, new non-residential small cell deployments will grow at a compound annual rate of 36%, to reach almost 8.5 million, and by 2025 deployments will be 22 times higher than in 2015. The research also provides an insight into operator’s densification plans, with 40% of operators expecting to deploy between 100 and 350 small cells per square kilometer (indoors and outdoors) in the areas they densify by 2020. Additionally, in the first 2-3 years of deploying 5G New Radio, 58% expect to focus primarily on small cells. The research also shows that the industry is already seeing acceleration of deployments in the Enterprise, where small cell deployments rose by 98% between 2015 and 2017, and are set to grow by up to 1600% from 2015 to 2025.

The Small Cell Forum (SCF) has also published Release 10, a collection of documents, presentations and videos that present the organization’s vision for the 5G era. This collection is a response to the requirements the Forum spent the summer collating resulting from regional and partner events in India, North America and Latin America. The Forum listened to input from operators, across the various geographies, on their key challenges and created a work program designed specifically to resolve the key issues raised.

Release 10 represents a significant shift in the work the Forum has produced to date. Where previous releases have focused on network functionality and engineering, this provides a more accessible format for all levels of organization, including presentations and info-graphics. SCF’s continuing commitment to ‘digitize the enterprise’ is also reflected as it expands its enterprise campaign into the healthcare sector with a detailed guide and business case.

According to SCF, this research shows the confidence and emphasis that operators around the world are placing on the technology, and the forum is actively collaborating with the vendor community as well as other industry associations to avoid fragmentation and accelerate the shift to true next generation networks and the enhanced connectivity they will bring.