Small Cell Forum proposes reference design for 5G NR FR1 small cells

SCF lays foundations for reference designs and interfaces that reflect evolving market requirements, while reducing fragmentation

Small Cell Forum, the organization making high-grade mobile connectivity accessible and affordable for industries, enterprises and for rural and urban communities, today published a comprehensive overview of the components and interfaces that comprise a 5G NR FR1 small cell distributed radio unit.

SCF251 5G NR FR1 Reference Design makes the case for a common, modular architecture for 5G small cell distributed radio units.

This work lays the foundations for the development of reference designs focused on delivering greater flexibility and scalability, including the ability to swap out regionally specific RF front end (RFFE) modules.

Small cells come in a growing variety of form factors, with different architectures, power levels and designs to address a diversity of use cases. Currently, the interfaces between different vendors’ small cells, or between different functional splits, are not uniform. This can increase cost, complexity and integration time and reduces scale.

Victor Torres, VP Marketing, arQana Technologies and project lead, said: “Our comprehensive review of 5G small cell distributed radio units found that, in terms of flexibility, the biggest issue is that the RF front end will be different, depending on frequency of operation, output power and other key factors.”

“Our paper argues that the solution to this challenge is a modular approach to small cell network design, in which a variety of RFFE designs can be interfaced in a standardised way to the same, common baseband and transceiver units. This means that the RFFE can be swapped in and out to support different markets without changing the rest of the hardware platform.”

This paper will be a useful reference for the entire wireless infrastructure ecosystem, but is especially targeted at:

·         Component makers looking to prioritize their development efforts on the areas of highest demand.

·         Private network, neutral host, and mobile network operators to inform their configuration and architecture choices.

·         System integrators and ODMs to reduce development effort.

The lead contributors to the document were Analog Devices, arQana Technologies, Picocom and Senko Advanced Components.

About SCF

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, multi-vendor platform and lower barriers to densification for all stakeholders.

Today our members are driving solutions that include:

·         5G Components, Products, Networks

·         Dis-aggregated 5G Small Cells

·         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.

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