04 January 2019
Europe is lagging behind North America and South East Asia when it comes to the deployment of small cells, says the Small Cell Forum (SCF).
According to the forum, small cells will provide the backbone upon which 5G will be built. For industrial and enterprise use cases, it says the convergence of small cells with edge compute nodes, especially for low latency IoT use cases, is set to be a driver in deployments.
Following a survey of 66 mobile operators and 32 other service providers worldwide, the SCF found that small cells are currently proliferating in regions where work has been undertaken to lower regulatory barriers relating to cost, sites approvals and deployment processes in the urban environment.
The SCF says that working in partnership with partner bodies, it has made “considerable efforts” in recent years to bring about more favourable regulatory processes for the rolling out of small cells in North America and Asia. It says these have paid dividends with regulators encouraging faster and cheaper small cell deployments. As a result, the forum predicts that between 2017-2019, annual deployment rates in North America will rise by 92 per cent while South East Asia will see 74 per cent.
However, with 5G at the heart of the critical need for densification, the forum points out that growth remains regionally varied, with Europe lagging behind North America and Asia.
Meanwhile in the enterprise market, the research shows that the top factors that will accelerate deployment are lower operating costs, a clear framework for how cost and risk are shared between operator and enterprise, and a clearer ROI case. The SCF believes cost is paramount and many of the other important enablers are geared to lower TCO and the effort required by the enterprise IT department or the operator. It adds that neutral hosting will also be an important enabler of densification, in particular for industrial and enterprise use cases and the IoT.
Forum chair David Orloff says it is critical that regulators allow operators the freedom to build out the next-generation networks and the enhanced connectivity they will bring. He says: “The Forum and its partners have spent considerable amounts of time working with regulators around the world, sharing our considerable expertise to create an environment in which small cells can realise their potential.
“While this is reaping rewards in many regions, there are others who run the risk of being left behind – and it is critical that regulators allow operators the freedom to build out the next generation networks and the enhanced connectivity they will bring.”