Small Cells Key to LTE, Analyst Says
It’s still a maturing market, but operators are installing Long Term Evolution (LTE) and WiMax base stations in existing 3G locations because it’s a quick, easy, and cheap way to achieve broad coverage, says In-Stat analyst Allen Nogee. Most operators are expecting to launch commercial services this year or next. (See 2010: Year of the Femto and DoCoMo Seeks LTE Femto Suppliers.)
A new class of more compact base stations will enable the pico and micro base stations to be even smaller, cheaper, and more power efficient than ever, Nogee adds. While some of these devices have been around for years, such as the indoor pico and microcells, they’ll start to take on different roles in 4G.
Others, like enterprise femtocells and outdoor metropolitan picocells, are an entirely new class of base station. Companies like Freescale Semiconductor Inc. , Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM), Percello Ltd. , Picochip , and DesignArt Networks have only begun developing semiconductors for these base stations within the last year, but they represent a viable alternative to such traditional silicon vendors as Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN). (See Challengers Shake Up LTE Chips , DesignArt Boosts 4G SoCs, picoChip Scores $20M, Ships 1M Chips , and Multicore Processors Target LTE .)
In-Stat is projecting that annual femtocell shipments will reach 31.8 million by 2014, and worldwide annual revenue will grow at 83.6 percent from 2009 to 2014. Carrier-installed metropolitan picocells will grow at 378 percent in the same period, while microcell base stations will only see a compound annual growth rate of 14.2 percent.
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile