Press Release

Small Cell Forum (SCF) has today published a roadmap for the commercialization of end-end small cell automation for the 5G-Era. Building on the small cell industry’s experience in establishing interoperable plug-and-play small cells for 3G and 4G, a collaborative paper has been produced by members AirHop, CommScope, Node-H, Nokia, Parallel Wireless, Reliance Jio and Samsung Electronics. SCF233 Small Cell SON and Orchestration from 4G to 5G is available for download alongside supporting materials on the Small Cell Forum website.

Ambitions for 5G to address future connectivity needs will see small cells deployed at scale in enterprise and industry verticals. This points to the need for pervasive end-end automation to ensure network operation remains feasible and affordable. Furthermore, advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have been shown to optimize dense het-nets in ways that are beyond human capability.

“With over a decade’s experience of commercializing large-scale plug-and-play small cell deployments, this paper presents SCF’s recommendations of how SON and automation need to be implemented for the broader end-end and AI-enabled automated vision for 5G,” said Dr. Prabhakar Chitrapu, Chair of Small Cell Forum. “Open and interoperable management and orchestration are a pre-requisite to realize these ambitions. Standards are an important first step, but further industry effort is now needed to prioritize scenarios, architectures and features for use in multi-vendor interoperability testing.”

“It is evident that with increasing complexity and dimensionality of networks as we move towards the 5G-Era, self-organization and automation are key for network operators,” said CommScope’s Balaji Raghotaman, who led the project. “As the industry moves towards a virtualized environment with off-the-shelf hardware, small cells are also moving in that direction. This brings opportunities and challenges, including the need for SCF to develop lean and scalable management models for small cell scenarios which can complement other industry efforts defining feature-rich but information-heavy macro cell counterparts.”

Following these recommendations, SCF members have initiated a number of work items which look both at the underlying management platforms as well as future AI/ML applications that open and interoperable management and orchestration will enable.


About Small Cell Forum
Small Cell Forum develops the technical and commercial enablers to accelerate small cell adoption and drive wide-scale densification.
Broad roll-out of small cells will make high-grade mobile connectivity accessible and affordable for industries, enterprises and for rural and urban communities. That, in turn, will drive new business opportunities for a widening ecosystem of service providers.
Those service providers are central to our work program. Our operator members establish the requirements that drive the activities and outputs of our technical groups.
We have driven the standardization of key elements of small cell technology including Iuh, FAPI, nFAPI, SON, services APIs, TR-069 evolution and the enhancement of the X2 interface. These specifications enable an open, multivendor platform and lower barriers to densification for all stakeholders.
Today our members are driving solutions that include:
• 5G Components, Products, Networks
• 5G nFAPI & Split Option 6
• Planning, Management and Automation
• 5G regulation & safety
• Neutral Hosts & Multi-operator
• Private and Public Network coexistence
• Edge compute with Small Cell Blueprint
• End to end orchestration
The Small Cell Forum Release Program has now established business cases and market drivers for all the main use cases, clarifying market needs and addressing barriers to deployment for residential, enterprise, rural & remote, and urban small cells. It has also established initiatives relating to both public and private (MNO) coordination. The Small Cell Forum Release Program website can be found here: