SCF releases high-level design of Hosted RAN – a global framework for neutral host and private networks

Hosted RAN will enable new entrants to deploy coverage and capacity at pace, and will support tenants including MNOs, private networks, MVNOs and enterprises both indoor and outdoor

29 June 2022, UK – Small Cell Forum, the global membership organization committed to supporting agile, low-cost mobile infrastructure through small cells, today released part two in its Neutral Host Requirements series of documents, which details the proposed global Hosted RAN framework for neutral host and private networks.

SCF245 Neutral Host Requirements Part 2: Hosted RAN high-level design is the result of collaboration over the past year between SCF member companies: BT, Cellnex, CommScope, Crown Castle, Dense Air, Freshwave and Reliance Jio.

The document aims to globalize and build on the ground-breaking work initiated by the UK’s MNOs’ with the Joint Operator Technical Specification for Neutral Host In-Building (JOTS NHIB), which sets out technical requirements for shared in-building solutions using small-cell base stations.

SCF’s 245 goes further, making Hosted RAN applicable for a range of tenants not just Mobile Network Operators, but also private network operators, MVNOs and enterprises.

SCF co-work item lead Mike Ferris, Chief Network Architect, Dense Air, said: “Hosted RANs can complement mobile network operators’ national macro networks, allowing new deployers such as neutral hosts to deploy in places that would otherwise not be viable, such as small-to-medium enterprises, rural areas, and industrial settings that need custom connectivity for IoT and critical communications. Hosted RANs are also an opportunity for mobile network operators to outsource RAN deployment and management.”

SCF co-work item lead George Aguilera, Technology Strategy, Crown Castle, added: “Hosted RANs are already available in some developed markets, like JOTS NHIB in the UK and CBRS-enabled private networks in the US. The purpose of our work in SCF245 was to capture the best practice design established in these rollouts and to make them available in other regions for 5G and outdoor hosting scenarios too.”

SCF245 considers Hosted RAN from the perspective of multiple stakeholders – tenants, neutral hosts, venues and suppliers and explores multiple design aspects, all of which are crucial for success including:

  • Management, OSS and security
  • Spectrum requirements
  • Hosting of compute and PNFs to support MNOs VNFs
  • Radio and antenna capabilities
  • Transport networks
  • Synchronization
  • Resilience
  • Capacity provisioning

Future work on the Hosted RAN framework and neutral host requirements has been identified within the document, including openness, network slicing, KPI sharing, reporting and analysis, blockchain and content security, quantum computing and migration scenarios. But first the working group will turn its attention to elaborating a global neutral host business model structural framework, to inspire new markets to adopt a positive and collaborative approach to neutral hosting.

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