Many of the 5G use cases which are expected to deliver the greatest social and economic impact are inherently based around small cells. Indeed, the foundations for many of them are being laid in 4G densification, particularly where they rely on buildings, or whole cities, becoming smarter.
It is essential that the barriers to indoor and city deployment are lowered quickly, so that 5G-enabled services can be built on top of these 4G systems. In 5G, there will be more cells, and a rising variety of form factors including very low power, embedded access points to support IoT coverage in every nook and cranny. There will also be edge compute nodes, as service providers recognize that the combination of high quality connectivity with localized cloud data processing, all close to the user, will greatly expand the range of applications that will be delivered in a smart city.
One of the key areas of focus at this year’s Small Cells World Summit (SCWS) will be how to ease deployment of dense networks, including edge nodes, in order to make buildings and cities smarter, and support the full variety of human and IoT use cases.
These issues are so important that they will have two sessions, both on day two (Wednesday May 22) devoted to them. The first is entitled ‘S5G smart cities and policy to enable them’. In this, speakers from municipalities and other experts will discuss their efforts to reduce the red tape surrounding site and equipment approvals, and share their business case secrets with conference attendees.
Executives from two London local authorities, and from the cities of Amsterdam and Dublin, will share their experiences of deploying dense networks for 4G and laying the groundwork for 5G, and their varying approaches to investment sharing and revenue generation.
There will also be experts providing more general overviews of the remaining legal and practical challenges, and the work being done round the world to lower barriers to deployment and reduce the time and cost of making a city, or a large building, smart and connected. In particular, the European Union’s proposed light-touch approvals regime for small cells – which has been heavily influenced by Small Cell Forum’s lobbying – will be discussed.
Attendees will gain a clear-sighted, factual view of the real world situation facing smart city deployments, and can understand and input to the Forum’s intensive program to influence regulators round the world to ease the path to densification.
It is likely that the rising enterprise and city interest in edge computing will be a catalyst for smart city projects, and edge integration could greatly enhance the business case for small cells in the IoT, whether these are deployed by mobile operators, enterprises or neutral hosts. So a related session on Wednesday afternoon will look at the opportunities which edge and IoT create for small cell operators, under the title ‘IoT and critical comms with private LTE/5G and edge computing’.
Small cell deployers will share their case studies, including those which hope to accelerate progress by taking a new approach to the business, including neutral host and private network providers. There will also be a representative from the Telecom Infrastructure Association (TIA), a close partner of the Forum in smart building and city initiatives.
Discussion will focus on the most promising emerging applications for small cells in smart cities, especially those in the IoT, and those which can be enhanced by edge integration. Speakers will explain which industries are leading the way, and the lessons others can learn from them about the strongest use cases and approaches to monetisation.
And practical issues, such as spectrum availability, will be high on the agenda too, including the opportunities to use shared spectrum to broaden the ecosystem and speed up deployment of smart city and IoT services, and even – especially when the next wave of 5G standards are released – move towards critical communications services to support public safety and emergency response.
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