How Will Edge Computing Impact Small Cells?

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Small Cell Forum (SCF) recently published research explaining how edge computing will impact the future of small cell networks, with particular focus on private cellular networks. A survey of service providers for the paper shows that by 2025, almost 75 percent of new indoor small cell deployments will be co-located with edge and/or private EPC. The paper is available to download here.

The report entitled “Edge Computing and Small Cell Networks” identifies core synergies between edge computing (EC) and small cell networks and highlights how those synergies are present across multiple domains – business, technical, deployment, product and vendor ecosystems.

It describes how the benefits of small cells co-located with edge can be applied to commercial and operational advantage in key industry segments, such as automation and Industry 4.0, worksites, mission critical services, enterprises and public safety. The paper looks in detail at the architectures and deployment considerations for edge and small cells in three premises-based use cases:

  • Fully private cellular networks (PCNs)
  • PCNs that have a roaming relationship with MNO networks
  • PCNS integrated with MNO networks

While small cells and edge computing have significant potential to meet enterprise demand and drive new business models for service providers, best practice needs to be agreed and adopted, and technical barriers/gaps addressed to optimize that potential for both enterprises and service providers, the report concluded.

“The benefits of edge computing are well known, but what we have begun to demonstrate with this work is that small cells and edge will be critical for enabling service providers and enterprises to realize new profitable service opportunities,” said Dr. Prabhakar Chitrapu, Chair of Small Cell Forum. “Small cells plus edge will also enable new business models for a broad spectrum of stakeholders, including edge infrastructure, edge network and edge platform as a service, as well as direct edge application services to subscribers, enterprises and service providers.”

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