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Study: small cell market will rise ‘relentlessly’ through 2017

A new report from Mobile Experts ( says the small cell forecast ratcheted down a notch this year, as some key programs in China and direct-to-enterprise channel did not materialize as anticipated. However, growth due to “densification” and indoor coverage has grown in strength, resulting in a strong revenue outlook, according to the research group.

“The overall market, including residential femtocells, is growing at about 17% (CAGR) over our forecast period,” says Mobile Experts Senior Analyst Kyung Mun. “But the growth for non-residential small cells is even more dramatic. We expect carrier and enterprise segments to grow at over 30% CAGR from 2016-2022.”

According to Mobile Experts, market trends point to an upward trajectory this year. Carriers with broad LTE coverage are reaching a level of traffic density in excess of 1 Gbps/km2, which leads to a need for small cells to increase capacity.   Additional small cells are used to expand mobile coverage in strategic locations within macro coverage areas to target high-value customers, Mobile Experts reveals in the new report.

“Overall, the small cell market is evolving rapidly. CPRI will be giving way to split-baseband architectures. Small cells will become an integral part of mobile networks as operators make the move toward hyper-dense networks with 5G services,” Mun adds. ”We’re optimistic that this upward trend will continue—and we’ll be tracking the continued progress carefully.”

Mobile Experts reports that technology choices from FDD/TD-LTE, LTE-U/LAA, LWA, CBRS, and even Carrier Wi-Fi are available for carriers and enterprises to address skyrocketing mobile data growth. While major mobile infrastructure suppliers including Ericsson, Huawei, and Nokia take larger shares of the carrier outdoor segment through ‘macro parity’ small cells, which take advantage of their macro footprints, smaller companies such as Spidercloud and Airspan are finding success in enterprise and indoor segments at several Tier 1 operator accounts. By 2022, Mobile Experts predicts small cells revenue to triple, over their forecast period, to reach over $4.5 billion.

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