SCWS 2024 round up

SCWS 2024 round up
By: Real Wireless Posted On: May 01, 2024 View: 61

Small cells, spectrum standards, Open Ran and private networks were just some of the topics covered at the Small Cells World Summit Conference, organised by SCF, in London last week.

CEO, Simon Fletcher and Managing Consultant Costa Tsourkas were at the event along with other industry experts, innovators and public sector stakeholders, to discuss the latest developments, opportunities, and challenges in the small cell and 5G markets. For the first time this year, the conference was co-located with the TowerXchange Europe Meetup, which helped connect technologies, infrastructures, and alternative network service providers from across the broad spectrum of Towers to Lampposts and from remote rural communities to buzzing urban metropolises. The conference provided insights from a broad range of perspectives, best practices, and solutions for the small cell and 5G ecosystem, as well as showcased the achievements and opportunities of the sector.  

Here are some of our key insights from the conference:  

5G may be struggling to meet the high market expectations, resulting in disappointment within the telecom industry, as it continues to face technical and economic hurdles that hinder its success and adoption. Some of the challenges include the lack of 5G-standalone (5G-SA) devices, the power efficiency of dual 4G-5G user device operation, the cost of 5G IoT and customer premises equipment (CPE) devices and the slow materialisation of new business models, value chains and revenue streams to monetise 5G services. The start of 5G-SA rollouts by most major operators is seen as the first step to unleash the true promise of 5G. 

Small cells are essential for 5G densification, but they require new deployment models, new partnerships, and new regulatory frameworks to scale up and reduce deployment costs. Some of the solutions include the use of street furniture, shared assets, common standardised sharing architectures (such as the UK’s JOTS NHIB), integration with smart poles, and the latest active DAS products with all of these deployment approaches are being progressed by the mobile eco system. 

Simon Fletcher, CEO at SCWS 2024

Open RANis gaining remarkable momentum in both maturity and adoption, with ever-intensifying collaboration across the telecom industry addressing the challenges of interoperability, security, performance and cost. SCF, the O-RAN Alliance, TIP, the OnGo Alliance, and nearly all RAN vendors and operators are now focused on making Open RAN a commercial success.  

Private networksand Private 5G specifically, are a promising opportunity for small cell vendors, integrators, and operators. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the industry needs more simplified P5G solutions, a relentless focus on the applications and use cases and integration with other enterprise and industrial connectivity technologies such as Wi-Fi and IT Networks. All of this will help potential users to develop a business case for P5G – which is the first step for any P5G deployment currently proving challenging.  

Neutral hostsare emerging as viable solution/service providers for multi-operator and multi-purpose networks within the built environment, in both indoor and outdoor venues. Benefits of neutral host platforms include reduction of capex and opex, the improvement of coverage and quality and the creation of new commercial models and revenue streams. Examples were referenced of Cellnex’s RANaaS, Boldyn’s extensive London Underground network for TfL, the announcement by Freshwave and CommScope of a shared neutral-host ORAN solution supporting all four UK networks and the DSIT funded West Sussex ‘BEACH’ project with Dense Air. 

mmWave is a game-changer for 5G, but it also requires new antenna designs, improved power management, and enhanced backhaul solutions to deliver its full benefit. Some of its advantages include higher capacity, low latency, and ample new spectrum availability. Applications include FWA, WISP, connected vehicles, and IAB (Integrated Access and Backhaul).  

Satellite and NTN (non-terrestrial networks) backhaul for rural small cells offers sustainable connectivity to millions of people in rural communities, mostly in developing countries. Emerging small cell rural neutral hosts are starting to develop in some localities. 5G is delivering an ever-increasing convergence between terrestrial and satellite networks – both on the radio access and the core network. There is a potential (or goal) for NTN to become a roaming extension of terrestrial networks – with a new generation of devices, focusing on professional use, supporting connected vehicle use cases moving from urban through to remote rural areas 

Simon Fletcher, CEO at SCWS 2024

AI is often seen as a key enabler of increased 5G network automation, value creation and exploitation. However, AI also requires new compute platforms, infrastructure processors and operations tools, which will add cost and timescale to successful AI deployment for network automation. 

The main takeaway was that the small cell and 5G ecosystem continues to be diverse, dynamic and evolving at the cutting edge of telecom technology. SCWS showcased strong stakeholder engagement, innovation, flexibility and most importantly the openness and collaboration of the wider telecom community striving to overcome current market challenges, achieve positive transformation and seize new opportunities.  

Real Wireless has worked with clients in each of these areas enabling us to see the big picture and ‘join the dots’ – whether we are looking at strategies 5-10 years out or supporting the procurement of in-building wireless infrastructure for a new or updated venue, we help our clients get the best from telecom networks. 

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