83 percent of respondent operators have deployed small cells, an increase of 11 percent from Infonetics Research survey in 2012.
78 percent of respondents rate multimode and seamless integration with macrocellular networks as very important small cell features.
Small cell backhaul staged a comeback as a barrier to deploying small cells in this year’s survey, but overall barriers are waning with the exception of outdoor site acquisition, which remains challenging.
Telecom service provider respondents don’t expect small cells to take the place of distributed antenna systems (DAS) anytime soon, instead viewing the technologies as complementary.
New alternatives to small cells like Ericsson’s Radio Dot System hold the potential to reduce the need for DAS in very specific applications such as medium and large enterprises.
A majority of survey respondents say they will definitely require self-organizing networks (SON) and coordinated multipoint (CoMP) to optimize network performance while diminishing the need for units.
“As evidenced by our latest small cell study, operators are seriously gearing up small cells for significant macrocellular network enhancements,” said Stephane Téral, principal analyst for mobile infrastructure and carrier economics at Infonetics Research.
Since service providers will be adding small cells to existing macro sites in very specific parts of their networks, there’s good reason to believe the total number of small cells will surpass that of macrocell sites, but definitely not by large proportions.
Telecom operators need to look at their spectrum resources and apply them as the need for capacity increases. This means selecting the right tool in the coverage and capacity toolbox.