Small Cell Forum (SCF) is pleased to announce its board for the year ahead including new member, BAI Communications, who bring their extensive neutral hosting experience to the Forum. Neutral hosts now represent half of SCF’s board, and along with leading mobile operators and vendors, they reflect the diversifying ecosystem of companies providing small cell services, equipment and components.
The Forum’s executive board for 2021 will comprise:
– Prabhakar Chitrapu (Chair)
– AT&T, Nick Thompson
– BAI Communications, Andrew Conway (New to Exec. Board for 2020-21)
– Cellnex Telecom, Piercarlo Giannattasio
– Crown Castle, Mark Reudink,
– DenseAir, Paul Trubridge
– Nokia, Randy Cox
– Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., Caleb Banke
– Reliance Jio, Ravi Sinha
The new board reflects two key areas of diversification in the small cell ecosystem – the emergence of alternative deployment models such as neutral hosting and private networks, and Open RAN specifications enabling disaggregation of small cells at both component and network level. Both areas are focal points for SCF’s work plan in the coming year.
Current market analysis  confirms we have now passed a tipping point for small cell deployment, with over half of new indoor small cells installed by alternative deployers including private networks, neutral hosts, heavy MVNOs and ‘direct to enterprise’ models, in addition to those deployed by mobile operators. This trend is set to continue with over 70% forecast to be deployed with the new models by 2026, with the largest share predicted to be neutral hosts.
“As a neutral host we see small cells becoming an increasingly important tool in delivering shared and bespoke networks for a range of smart city and transportation customers,” said Andrew Conway, Director of Engineering at BAI Communications and new SCF Board Member. “Collaboration and partnerships will be essential in the next wave of mobile deployments, bringing multi-operator services to private sector enterprise and public sector communities alike.
“BAI’s decision to join Small Cell Forum aligns with our mission to build 5G-ready communications infrastructure that connects people, enriches communities and advances economies, and we look forward to strengthening our ecosystem relationships with the Small Cell Forum board and membership.”
“A Neutral Host approach supported by venue owners will provide even more efficiencies in the business model, reducing power and space consumption, facilitating the installation process and maximizing the willingness of mobile network operators to be on-board,” said Piercarlo Giannattasio, Global Network Densification Principal at Cellnex Telecom and SCF Board Member.
“As an SCF Board member, Cellnex is helping to drive the industry forward with common, standardized platforms.”
SCF’s Open RAN specifications are also driving diversification at both component and network level in the small cell supplier ecosystem, and SCF’s 5G FAPI suite of specifications continue to drive innovation, economies of scale and supply chain diversification.
“Open RAN principles are crucial to us as an operator,” said Ravi Sinha, Director, Product Development and Solutions at Reliance Jio and SCF Board member. “We are proud to have been involved in helping define SCF’s FAPI suite of specifications for 5G small cells. For 2021, the team has an ambitious list of enhancements planned for the coming year to reflect advances in small cell radio architectures, alignment with the latest 3GPP and O-RAN specifications, and broaden ecosystem support.”
“I am delighted to see that the Forum board continues to reflect our diversifying ecosystem”, said Dr. Prabhakar Chitrapu, Chair of Small Cell Forum. “SCF was born of innovation – originally at the component and equipment level with the SoC based small cell concept, and now also at the deployer level with rich partnerships between mobile operators, neutral hosts, private networks and heavy MVNOs. I look forward to fruitful engagement with our new board to double-down on our ambitions to capture the needs of alternative deployers, as well as growing the ecosystem around our 5G FAPI Small Cell Open RAN specifications.”
Dr Chitrapu added, “I am also thrilled to welcome arQana Technologies as new members to the Forum. arQana is a world leader in supplying components for wireless small cell infrastructure, including mmw solutions, and their expertise marks a valuable addition to the Forum’s strengths as we embark on further work on 5G small cell product open specifications.”