Outdoor small cells have not happen as expected for many years. Nonetheless are we now possibly getting close to a breakthrough? According to a report by IHS Technology, 2017 will be the year: “The real ramp in outdoor small cell deployments will begin in 2017” . IHS Technology estimates a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 80 per cent until 2020. According to another report by SNS Research mm-wave backhaul for small cells will reach 1200 MUSD in 2020 (see below picture).
What drives the growth?
The continued growth in mobile data traffic is the main driver for this growth. In the Ericsson Mobility report (Nov 2016) , Ericsson predicts an increase of 10x the mobile data traffic by 2022 (see picture below). Which is equal to annual growth rate of 45%.
Video is the main driver for the growth and is expected to be 75% of the traffic by 2020 . Small cells are needed to increase the densification of the mobile networks to support all this mobile data usage. Also, technology is getting to the point where the total cost of ownership (TCO) is allowing a business case for small cells for the operators. Looking at the backhaul mm-wave solutions, it is now possible to make fully integrated mm-wave circuits in silicon germanium (SiGe) and new technologies like WiGig is also supporting the TCO. WiGig supports TDD, beam steering and beam forming removing costly diplexers and parabolic antennas for some of the small cell backhaul use cases. As we often say: “Technology markets often takes longer than you think, but when it happens it is almost always bigger than you thought”.
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