The Small Cell Forum is to explore how antenna technology will fit within 5G networks, after plasma silicon technology firm Plasma Antennas joined the organisation.
The Forum said the mobile industry needed to move beyond traditional phased array antennas to more steerable technology amid the shift to 5G.
It said phased array did not offer a good enough range and is also not developed to the point where it can fully support commercial mmWave, something it said was exacerbated in particular with small cells.
It said Plasma Antennas has solved the difficulty through its own beam-forming technology. Already in use by the UK defence industry, the Forum said the technology offers low loss, low power consumption, is cost effective and can change direction in a few hundred nanoseconds.
David Orloff, Chair of Small Cell Forum, said: “As the industry moves towards the 5G era, small cells have been accepted as critical in building out next generation networks, and antenna technology is a core component in making this a practical reality. We are delighted to welcome Plasma Antennas to the Forum and look forward to their involvement and input.”
Paul Phillipson, CEO of Plasma Antennas, added: “I come from a background of small cell technology with Ubiquisys, ipaccess and Lucent. I have known for a long time that small cells are the answer to coverage and performance. 5G presents challenges that demand innovation and new approaches. Plasma Antennas bring niche defence and security technology which elegantly switches sector and scales to deliver significant cost and performance advantages in mass market telecoms at mmWave frequencies.”
Earlier this month, the Small Cell Forum launched an enterprise council as it looked to further the spread of small cells into businesses.
Small cells saw 46 percent growth last year, with enterprises and public venues experiencing the most growth.