The Small Cell Forum has added nine new members as it looks to pave the way for the technology to underpin 5G networks.
The forum said the members - Ciena, Druid, Fastback Networks, InCoax, NextNav, Plasma Antennas, Raycap, Shenzen Gongjin Electronics Co and Technicolor - would particularly "[expand] its breadth of expertise" in Asian markets.
The new members join telcos including BT, Cable & Wireless, China Telecom, Ericsson, Huawei, iBwave, Intel, KT Corporation, Nokia, Orange and Telefónica, which have deployed more than 15 million small cells between them.
The forum said its immediate priorities included helping operators to deploy hyperdense networks and aiding enterprises in digitising their businesses. Last month it announced a new project aimed at placing the technology at the heart of smart cities.
However, a recent report warned how new entrants were disrupting the enterprise small cell market by aggressively rolling out solutions using unlicensed and shared spectrum.
David Orloff, Chair of Small Cell Forum, said: “Small cells are now widely accepted as the key way in which large scale capacity will be delivered across mobile networks. Therefore, it remains critical that the whole telecoms and services ecosystem is ready to support the growing wave of small cell deployments both on today’s LTE networks as well as future evolutions."
Tormod Larsen, Chief Technology Officer, ExteNet, added: “Data capacity continues to grow more critical to address the needs of today’s data-intensive users, and small cells offer highly scalable, flexible and high-capacity solutions for both indoor and outdoor use."
Ericsson and Nokia are among the companies who have recently refreshed their small cell portfolios. UK operator O2 deployed fibre-connected small cells last month to boost its LTE-A network in the Scottish city of Aberdeen.