Small cell sales to grow nearly 40 fold from 2011 through 2016, says Infonetics Research

Telecom Lead America: The number of small cell units sold is forecast to grow nearly 40-fold from 2011 to 2016, says new report from Infonetics Research.

Infonetics expects global small cell revenue to grow at a 73 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) during the 5 years from 2011 to 2016.

The market for small cells consists of 3G microcells and picocells, 4G mini eNodeBs, and 3G and 4G public access femtocells.

Asia Pacific dominates the small cell market and will continue to do so through at least 2016.

Some of the challenges affecting small cell deployment include backhaul link quality and affordability, inter-cell interference, spectrum availability, and regulatory restrictions.

Public access femtocells already make up more than 70 percent of all small cells shipped worldwide.

“In terms of units, yes, small cell numbers can be big, but don’t get too excited – there are a lot of serious issues that need to be resolved, and some that cannot be resolved,” says  Stéphane Téral, principal analyst for mobile infrastructure and carrier economics at Infonetics Research.

According to Teral, backhaul is the biggest issue in managing small cells. They also have to get interference under control. The market for small cells is growing fast.

“But the volumes will not be high enough to support the number of vendors trying to get into the small cell space,” Teral said. “There is no El Dorado in small cells. A vendor battle is looming and not everyone

“Deploying femtocells in public metro spaces could help mobile operators address the data offload challenge,” says Richard Webb, directing analyst for microwave and mobile offload at Infonetics and co-author of the report.

“As operators utilize LTE femtocells to complement coverage and capacity for LTE macro deployment, the 4G femtocell segment will take off, becoming the main growth engine of the small cell market by 2014,” Webb added. “In the meantime, carrier WiFi will be a faster-growing solution for offload, as it is often less complex to deploy compared to cellular-based small cells.”

Small Cells to take over 12% of mobile traffic over next five years, says Juniper Research

While the level of data delivered to mobile devices is expected to continue to expand dramatically over the next five years, service providers will offload nearly 60 percent of traffic in that period, says a recent report from Juniper Research.

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