Operators look to manage escalating 4G traffic


Mobile operators choose 4G LTE outdoor small cells to manage escalating traffic demand

There is predicted to be a healthy 38% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2021 for outdoor small cells, particularly for 4G LTE small cells, according to ABI Research.

As networks grow beyond coverage to addressing capacity through densification, mobile network operators are finding that deploying small cells is one of the most effective ways to boost network capacity in high traffic urban and suburban areas, the research noted.

This year, LTE small cells are the fastest growing small cell type in the market driven by venue and dense urban deployments. ABI Research forecasts the number of LTE small cells shipped to double in 2016 and by a similar factor each year after as mobile network operators put in place the framework for 5G deployments.

In 2021, the value of LTE small cells equipment will represent almost 70% of the small cell equipment market.

“Mobile network operators on every continent, such as China Mobile, Verizon, and Vodafone, among others, are now investing in network densification,” says Nick Marshall, research director at ABI Research. “The results of this can be seen in the ramp of small cells this year.”

Last year, the challenges of backhaul, power, permitting and siting, which previously stalled small cell roll out, were overcome with small cells as a service (SCaaS) solutions from vendors and infrastructure owners, including American Tower, Crown Castle, Ericsson, and Nokia. Several of these companies report in 2016 earnings calls that small cells-related revenue is now growing strongly quarter on quarter.

The Asia-Pacific region, given its large size with 4G deployments in South Korea and Japan, as well as the large LTE and growing networks in China and India, will represent almost 50% of the worldwide small cell equipment market by 2021.


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