Feature Article

January 03, 2012

Small Cell Shipments to Reach $14 Billion by 2015

The small cell industry is rapidly maturing, motivated by a data-driven capacity crunch and increasingly widespread advances in LTE deployments. Mobile data usage is increasing by between 70 and 100 percent on a yearly basis. To meet this demand, cellular infrastructure architectures have to change to include more coverage, cell density, and find the ability to build new cell base stations.

More and smaller cell deployments are being used to enhance coverage, while Femtocells will be used in residences and enterprises. A femtocell is a small cellular base station designed for use in residential or small business environments. It connects to the service provider’s network via broadband and typically supports 2 to 5 mobile phones in a residential setting. A femtocell allows service providers to extend service covering inside of your home, where it might be limited. 

The market for small cells has begun with millions of consumer femtocells shipping this year. The market will explode over the next five years with heterogeneous networks (HetNet) and self-organizing networks (SON) products coming out to address new kinds of small-cell applications. Many new femtocells and picocells are in development today and are intended to augment the ability of urban networks to handle the new dense mobile data traffic.

New NPD In-Stat research provides a comprehensive review of which small cells serve best in a variety of coverage scenarios. The company, who also took a five-year approach, predicts the retail value of small cell shipments will reach $14 billion in 2015. “The potential hat true mobile broadband offers in personal communications, commerce, and social networking becomes a cure for mobile operators,” said Chris Kissell, Senior Analyst. “Use case determines the form factor.”

NPD In-Stat studies show that 75 percent of mobile broadband connections are made indoors. This means that mobile operators have to ensure Qos for subscribers in their homes, at their jobs, and at their leisure. “Radio Access Network (RAN) devices have to show versatility. If thought of as small cells, RAN devices can provide access to as few as four users or as many as a thousand,” said Kissell.

NPD found that in 2015 the retail value of femtocells in Eastern Europe is estimated to reach $265 million, while roughly 30.7 million WCDMA/HSPA residential femtocells will be shipped in 2015 -- helping small cell shipments to reach around $14 billion within the next five years. 

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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