Small Cells Growth Surges as Carriers Densify Network

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Data from Austin, TX-based ABI Research finds consumers pushed the whopping growth – 43 percent on a compound annual average – by demanding more capacity over coverage area.
“Many mobile network operators around the world, including Verizon, Sprint, China Mobile and Vodafone, among others, are now investing in network densification,” said Nick Marshall, Research Director at ABI Research. “The results of this can be seen in the ramp of small cells this year. As many networks shift from coverage-centric to capacity-focused, MNOs are finding that small cells are an effective way to boost network capacity in high traffic areas.”
The report found the challenges of backhaul, power, permitting and siting, in which previously stalled small cell rollout, are being overcome in 2015 “with Small Cells as a Service (SCaaS) from vendors and infrastructure owners, including Alcatel-Lucent, American Tower, Crown Castle, Ericsson, Nokia Networks and Towerstream.” It noted, “several of these companies are reporting in earnings calls that small cell-related revenue is growing strongly quarter-on-quarter.”
The research report found that this year 4G small cells are the fastest growing small cell type in the market driven by venue and dense urban deployments. Its forecasters predict the number of LTE small cells to double in 2015 and by a similar factor each subsequent year. “In 2020, the value of LTE small cells will represent more than 85 percent of the small cell equipment market.”
Researchers determined that the Asia-Pacific region, given its large size and 4G deployments in South Korea and Japan, as well as the start of commercial TD-LTE operations in China and India, “will grow to represent almost 50 percent of the worldwide small cell equipment market by 2017.”