Small cell working guide details best practices for 5G, IoT virtualization

November 02, 2016 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Small cell virtualization will be a key enabler of 5G HetNets, enterprise services and the Internet of Things (IoT), offering significant benefits including scalability, agility, cost reduction and network slicing.

To this end, the Small Cell Forum (SCF) has published Release 8, a practical working guide detailing technical and commercial best practice for operators planning to deploy Network Function Virtualization (NFV). In Release 8, SCF combines unique experience of real-world deployments of NFV technology today with small cells at the network edge, which will be invaluable in building out the networks for the future.

Virtualization allows network functions to be separated from the radio, and run on commodity hardware, including the Cloud. This allows resources to be scaled dynamically according to the number and type of mobile services in use.

This provides a stepping stone to network slicing, which allows virtualized network resources to be readily carved up and assigned on-demand, enabling new wholesale connectivity business models, or multi-operator sharing.

To date, industry approaches to RAN virtualization have mainly been vendor proprietary, risking fragmentation and delaying progress. These documents from SCF offer a unified set of guidelines, interfaces and specifications allowing operators to approach virtualization in an efficient, interoperable and future-proofed way.

“The benefits to the mobile industry of virtualization are clear, with a range of major advantages including cost reduction, scalability and the ability to offer a broad range of new services. However, as with many new technologies the threat of fragmentation is very real,” said David Orloff, Chair of Small Cell Forum.

“Small Cell Forum is in the vanguard of this movement and the experience from this sector is invaluable to the wider industry, particularly in light of 5G and IoT. We are proud to have delivered Release 8, which will help accelerate virtualization industry-wide.”