Small Cells – low-power, short range wireless base stations – were billed as a revolution in wireless network architectures when they first emerged over a decade ago.
Today, the association representing the industry — the Small Cell Forum — is still growing, but the market has yet to live up to its early hype; deployments are ramping up, but not as fast as many had predicted.
Small cells will however be key to the evolution of wireless networks — the high-frequency spectrum planned for use with 5G will require smaller cells.
But unless the issues surrounding small cell deployments can be addressed, these evolutions will stall.
What’s the solution?
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To be sure, there’s no silver bullet for small cell success. Where the Small Cell Forum is tasked with driving, “the wide-scale adoption of small cells” it’s taken a clear step with the shape of its new board.
As a share of the board’s membership, the role of service providers has nearly doubled.
While the Forum and its board can’t single-handedly accelerate deployments engaging more service providers in setting a strategic agenda is clearly the current plan.
It’s a smart one.
Service providers, after all, are the companies who will ultimately be responsible for deploying small cells and integrating them into their networks.
They are closer to market realities than any vendor bringing the insights that are most important now that small cell technologies are mature.