Reacting to the growth of the small cell market, the Femto Forum announced it was changing its name to the Small Cell Forum in a move to align its focus with “residential, enterprise, metro and rural small cells, as well as to prevent the perception that the small cell arena is fragmented.”
Despite its aim, that perception could linger however as there remains several trade organizations targeting the small cell arena, including PCIA’s DAS Forum and the Wi-Fi Alliance. The Small Cell Forum leaders noted that while there are indeed other players in the space, the organization stands out in that it focuses on small cells that operate in licensed spectrum, are operator-managed and feature edge-based intelligence. Those include what it terms femtocells, picocells, microcells and metrocells, as well as support the “crossover” between small cells and other technologies like Wi-Fi, cloud RAN, distributed antenna systems and macrocells that are part of heterogeneous networks.
As part of its agenda, the Small Cell Forum said it will work to develop a consensus on “common approaches, standards and agreed best practice for all small cells.” The forum noted that some of the challenges facing the market include “finding appropriate small cell sites; delivering power and backhaul; managing interactions between small cells, macrocells and other wireless technologies; and effective interoperability and network management.”
The small cell market has indeed seen an explosion of interest over the past 12 months. A recent report from Mobile Experts noted that carriers could save up to 70% on LTE deployment costs by using smaller cells, a savings that could see more than two-thirds of all small cell deployment in 2017 devoted to various versions of the LTE standard. NPD In-Stat also released a report predicting that due to skyrocketing demand for mobile data services the sale of small cell devices will hit $14 billion in retail value by 2015.
The move to small cells is also impacting merger and acquisition activity as Mindspeed Technologies recently closed on a deal to acquire Picochip, which is a supplier of integrated system-on-chip solutions targeting small cell base stations, and has a history of supplying equipment to the femtocell market.
The Small Cell Forum claims 137 members, including 63 operators serving more than 1.7 billion customers around the world.
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