Why would you need Small Cell Framework?
In hindsight, 2015 may be regarded a pivotal year for Small Cells - the year when Small Cells moved from the early adopters circle into mainstream markets. This is at least the essence of a recent Small Cell Forum report on the state of the Small Cell industry.
Mainstream markets expect mature solutions. On the other hand, today’s proposed Small Cell solutions are much more diverse than a few years ago. The catchword is HetNet - heterogeneous networks which combine of a variety of communication architectures, each being optimized for specific challenges. Time will tell which architectures will succeed in the market, and how they will share the range of application scenarios. Until then, equipment vendors need to be flexible.
Bringing mature products to the market, while still being quick to adapt to new concepts, requires a stable base to build upon. At Nash Innovations, our mission is to provide a high quality framework of Small Cell components that is exactly this – carrier grade components, pre-integrated and tested, covering the core functionality of Small Cells.
The story of Nash’s Small Cell Framework began when we had finished development of our W-CDMA Small Cell for Tier 1 telco equipment vendors, and wanted to use this asset for the more specialized applications asked for by our customers. This turned out to be challenging - despite fascinating ideas for Small Cell applications, the need to develop, integrate and test several components often made the business case unattractive. While Small Cell based solutions, by virtue of their flexible deployment and relatively low cost, should be the preferred solution for many communication tasks, the relatively low quantities often do not justify the development efforts.
A very frustrating situation. What if we could provide the most frequently needed functionality as ready-made, pre-integrated components? That would allow realizing such solutions more quickly and much more cost effectively. The components could also be made available to customers willing to build their own systems from it – we’d be happy to assist them in this process.
It was obvious that LTE and W-CDMA would need to be supported. A flexible and extensible OAM system for configuration, fault handling and software management was another must. We decided to use TI’s Keystone / Keystone II SoCs for initial implementation, maintaining a modular approach that supports different hardware architectures. Primary objective however was to minimize integration and test efforts - the essential pre-requisite for cost effective realization for application specific Small Cells.
After significant investment, and with the help of capable and supportive partners, the first release of the Small Cell Framework (called R1) will be made available for general application by the end of March 2016. Besides being used for Nash’s own Vehicular Small Cell (VSC) projects and project specific Small Cells, the Framework will also be available to our customers for usage in their own projects.
That’s however not the endpoint of the development – with a stable basis now being available, the focus is on adding latest features. Stay tuned for updates!
Karsten de Freese
Head of Small Cell Delivery