DALLAS -- A state of the nation report from Small Cell Forum, bringing together three pieces of independent or specially commissioned research, has highlighted a significant change in small cell market emphasis, outlook and requirements.
Titled “Crossing the Chasm”, the report shows that in the small cell Enterprise marketplace, 2015 has been characterized by a transition from market-testing to market–deployment and predicts that by 2020 Enterprise deployments will grow to become the largest market for small cells, in spite of the continued growth of consumer small cell installations.
Speaking in Dallas, where the report was published at the Small Cell Americas conference, Forum Chair Alan Law said: “This reports effectively signals the end of the first phase of the small cell industry – the ‘why’ phase. What matters now to operators all over the world is not why but ‘how?’
“In phase two we must drive forward to address the deployment and market challenges that operators face,” he explained. “The challenges of integration and optimization across the small cell layer, of increasing network virtualization, of multiple frequency usage, and of multi-carrier small cells.
“It’s now beyond question that networks need to densify to cope with the data demand from businesses, consumers and the Internet of Things. But I think this report highlights that it is also beyond doubt that small cells will be at the heart of the solution,” he said.
Available to download from Small Cell Forum’s Release website, the Crossing the Chasm report reveals that Enterprise small cell shipments in 2015 are on track for a year-on-year increase of 110 per cent compared to 2014. It says the Enterprise market will be the first non-residential market for small cells to reach critical mass.
The report states that at the beginning of the year, residential and small or home office small cell shipments were 70 per cent higher than for the equivalent period in 2014. Overall it predicts that calendar year deployments in this sector will total 3.55 million by the end of 2015, up from 2.26 million at the end of 2014.
Significantly, the report states that in the much newer Enterprise market - which includes small cell installations in offices, indoor public spaces, and for business M2M applications - deployments in 2015 reached almost 400,000 an increase of 110 per cent on 2014.
Furthermore, it predicts that by 2020, annual Enterprise small cells deployments will reach 5.3m – a more than ten-fold growth in just five years.
In the Enterprise space, a key market driver will be the ability to create new services and drive revenue opportunities based on small cell connectivity. The report estimates that some 40 per cent of Enterprise small cells in 2020 will be managed from the Cloud, and that the resulting market for mobile cloud services based on small cell infrastructure would top $4bn in revenues.
“This transition in our global outlook – from a simple why to an increasingly complex how – requires a matching change in the work of the Forum,” said Law.
“Our new operator-led work programs are addressing all the key components of our changing world – including IoT, Virtualization, the use of unlicensed spectrum, and the complexities of network orchestration. All of these issues are vital to the network densification challenge,” he added.
In 2014, the report reveals that some 88 per cent of non-residential small cells were deployed in low or medium density configurations – fewer than 25 small cells per square kilometer. However, in 2016, the report predicts that around half of all small cell deployments will be in much higher density configurations – with as many as 15 per cent in hyper dense configurations of more than 150 small cells per square kilometer.
“The Crossing the Chasm report lays out a clear roadmap of the future for the small cell industry and the issues that the operators want us to help address and solve,” said Law.
“I believe our work programs – led by operators but in partnership with the vendor community – will play the lead role in defining the small cell ecosystem and creating the network densification required for the HetNets of the near future,” he concluded.