Operator and Vendor Body Announces Release 8, aimed at helping industry expedite widespread deployment of virtualized network services
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.”
Central to Release 8 is an open interface specification which splits the small cell into physical and virtual components. Called nFAPI (network functional application platform interface), it defines a fronthaul link between physical and virtual, which can be transported over the packet ethernet connections widely available in enterprise, urban and campus deployments.
Release 8 also contains documents to accelerate commercial adoption of virtualized small cells, including details of network architectures, management, transport performance requirements, impact on deployment and operations, and many more.
Small Cell Forum works to drive the wide-scale adoption of small cells and accelerate the delivery of integrated HetNets. Our work program is organized around two main streams – Deploying Hyperdense HetNets and Enabling Digitized Enterprise. These tie together all the Forum’s projects across the HetNet and create a powerful framework for the transition to 5G.
We are a carrier-led organization. This means our operator members establish requirements that drive the activities and outputs of our technical groups.
Today our members are driving solutions that include small cell/Wi-Fi integration, SON evolution, virtualization of the small cell layer, driving mass adoption via multi-operator neutral host, ensuring a common approach to service APIs to drive commercialization and the integration of small cells into 5G standards evolution.
The SCF board includes Airspan, AT&T, Cisco, CommScope, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, ip.access, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm, Reliance Jio, SoftBank, SpiderCloud, Sprint and Vodafone.