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  Press Contact:
Stéphane Téral
Principal Analyst, Mobile Infrastructure and Carrier Economics
Infonetics Research
(408) 583-3371
stephane@infonetics.com
twitter: infonetics





Small cell survey shows operators plan to run 12% of network capacity on small cells by 2012

 

Campbell, CALIFORNIA, December 15, 2011—Market research firm Infonetics Research today released excerpts from its December 2011 Small Cell Deployment Strategies: Global Service Provider Survey, for which Infonetics interviewed incumbent, competitive, and mobile operators around the world about their small cell buildout plans.


The survey, one of two new small cell-related studies published this month by Infonetics, shows that small cells are shifting from indoor voice coverage improvement to data optimization and are poised to play a major role in 3G and 4G network expansion.


ANALYST NOTE

"Operators we interviewed in November 2011 expect to double the percentage of base transceiver station units that are small cells from 6% this year to 12% in 2012, suggesting a significant ramp up in small cell deployments across the board," reports Stéphane Téral, Infonetics Research’s principal analyst for mobile and FMC infrastructure. "This is despite the fact that the majority of operators still see interference management and support for heterogeneous networks as a challenge to deploying small cells. The small cell market will take off one way or the other – but operators will need to spend some time testing to figure it all out. Small cells won’t come to the rescue for every situation, but they are a critical tool that operators are turning to and will continue to in increasing numbers in the future."


SMALL CELL DEPLOYMENT STRATEGIES SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • While widespread, the small cell installed base is tiny compared to that of macrocells, and although it is growing at a fast pace, it will take some time to reach meaningful penetration
  • 72% of the respondent operators participating in Infonetics’ survey have already deployed small cells (it was a requirement to participate in the study to have deployed or plan to deploy small cells by 2012)
  • Of those deploying small cells, microcells are deployed by the most so far but picocells will take the lead next year
  • The top 3 drivers for deploying small cells are optimizing in-building coverage, optimizing high data usage areas, and non-expandability of the macro network
  • More operators plan to employ distributed antenna systems (DAS) and public space femtocells next year compared to this year
  • Small cells are mainly used in metro areas and large enterprises now, but reflecting the fact that service providers are facing increased pressure to keep users happy, next year respondent operators plan to deploy significantly more small cells in many more locations, including public venues, airports and stations, retail malls, hotels, highways, rural areas, etc.
  • Like last year, interference management and support for heterogeneous networks are operators’ top-rated technical challenges to deploying small cells

SMALL CELL SURVEY SYNOPSIS

For its 20-page Small Cell Deployment Strategies: Global Service Provider Survey, Infonetics interviewed 18 incumbent, competitive, and mobile operators about their small cell buildout plans. The study provides insight into service provider small cell deployment plans and drivers, technical challenges, implementation barriers, deployment locations, network expansion scenarios, and remote radio head (RRH) deployment strategies. Roughly ¾ of the respondents have already deployed small cells, and the rest plan to do so by 2012. Most respondents hail from the 3GPP camp (78%), and 5 are running commercial LTE networks. Respondents are knowledgeable purchase decision-makers at operators in EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa), North America and Asia Pacific that together represent 30% of the world’s telecom carrier revenue and 29% of the world’s telecom capital expenditures.


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Download report prospectuses, tables of contents, highlights, etc. at http://www.infonetics.com/login (see MOBILE BACKHAUL & MICROWAVE or SMALL CELLS & WIFI OFFLOAD).


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Infonetics Research (www.infonetics.com) is an international market research and consulting firm serving the communications industry since 1990. A leader in defining and tracking emerging and established technologies in all world regions, Infonetics helps clients plan, strategize, and compete more effectively.


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"The top 3 drivers for deploying small cells are optimizing in-building coverage, optimizing high data usage areas, and non-expandability of the macro network."

Stéphane Téral, Principal Analyst
Mobile and FMC Infrastructure

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