Mobile Experts (www.mobile-experts.net) has released fresh numbers and analysis that explain why the wireless backhaul market has started out slow, then how it will rise over the next four years. Fixed Wireless Access is also covered in the annual Mobile Experts breakdown of backhaul, fronthaul, and midhaul for small cells.
To create estimates and forecasts for the Small Cell market, the Mobile Experts analysts rely on direct input from more than 55 industry sources, with an array of mobile operators contributing to the overall analysis. The goal achieved in this latest report is a detailed, global view of the market. Mobile Experts has built a “top down” forecast based on this direct input from mobile operators and based on trends in end-user demand for mobile services, and a “bottom up” forecast through discussions with OEMs and semiconductor suppliers in the supply chain.
“We don’t rely on hype or wishful thinking,” commented Joe Madden, founder of Mobile Experts. “We conduct the interviews and analysis ourselves so that we can understand the dynamics of backhaul technology choices. Our review of trial results and demos from several backhaul vendors, as well as our in-depth cost analysis, guided our conclusions and confirmed, edited, or streamlined our theories. This is how we present our customers with such high accuracy.”
According to the Mobile Experts report, by 2021, 28% of all small base stations shipped will use wireless transport—an increase from only 3% in 2016. This change stems from split-baseband RRH units that will take over the small cell market with lower throughput requirements, which will allow wireless midhaul to come into play instead of fiber fronthaul.
The report explains how non-line of sight (NLOS) wireless systems will account for 70-80% of wireless transport in the 2016-17 timeframe, but operators with 5G plans will start to move decisively toward LOS solutions with higher throughput in the 2019-21 timeframe. In related news, Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) has emerged as a significant market for very similar solutions, with enterprises and service providers growing tired of waiting for fiber. Mobile Experts predicts that FWA is likely to be bigger than the small cell market in driving demand for wireless PTP and PMP links.
“In the end, the wireless backhaul/fronthaul market will get healthier than it has been, but fiber is still king,” says Madden. “With 5G deployment looming, operators are concerned with deployment of any link that isn’t future-proof for 5G. Fiber network development will be the primary focus for most operators. We have used this report as an opportunity to illuminate the Fixed Wireless Access market to show an alternative path for wireless backhaul vendors.”