5G Small Cell Deployment Expected to Exponentially Increase by 2025


ABI Research reports that 5G mobile data traffic worldwide will force network operators to upgrade capacity by or before 2026. Currently, Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MIMO) macro cells are fulfilling 5G capacity demands, but more small cells, densely deployed, will be needed in the future. According to ABI Research’s 5G Small Cells application analysis report, by 2027, there will be 13 million outdoor 5G small cell deployments, overtaking 4G in 2028.

Small cells “allow network operators to derive more value from their existing spectrums by exploiting them more efficiently,” explains Fei Liu, 5G & Mobile Network Infrastructure Industry Analyst at ABI Research. “5G small cells face more challenges in design and performance…and need to be smaller and lighter while supporting larger bandwidths such as 100 MHz and 200 MHz.” 

ABI Research predicts mass 5G small cell deployments will occur around 2025, when network capacity on the C-band should run out without additional spectrum or small cell densification. Since most mobile network operators worldwide focus on macro cell deployment for 5G, Liu noted that a mix of macro and micro infrastructure is necessary.

“5G small cells can co-exist with macro cells, and self-organizing networks help minimize risks from interferences between cells. Alternatively, mobile network operators should deploy different frequency bands on small and macro cells,” Liu said.

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