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Stéphane Téral
Senior Research Director, Mobile Infrastructure and Carrier Economics
(408) 583-3371
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Richard Webb
Research Director, Mobile Backhaul and Small Cells
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Small cell market not big enough for all who want to play in it


Campbell, CALIFORNIA, September 27, 2012—Market research firm Infonetics Research today released excerpts from its latest Small Cell Equipment market size and forecast report, which tracks microcells, picocells, and public access femtocells and the vendors who manufacture them.


“In terms of units, yes, small cell numbers can be big, but don’t get too excited – there are a lot of serious issues that need to be resolved, and some that cannot be resolved,” cautions notes Stéphane Téral, principal analyst for mobile infrastructure and carrier economics at Infonetics Research.

Téral adds: “Let’s say an operator has thousands of small cells; how do you manage them all? How do you backhaul them? When we talk to carriers, backhaul is always the biggest issue. And then of course they have to get interference under control. Don’t get me wrong; there is no question that a small cell market exists and it is growing fast. But the volumes will not be high enough to support the number of vendors trying to get into the small cell space. There is no 'El Dorado' in small cells. A vendor battle is looming and not everyone is going to win.”

Co-author of the report, Richard Webb, directing analyst for microwave and mobile offload at Infonetics, adds: “Public access femtocells already make up more than 70% of all small cells shipped worldwide. Deploying femtocells in public metro spaces could help mobile operators address the data offload challenge. As operators utilize LTE femtocells to complement coverage and capacity for LTE macro deployment, the 4G femtocell segment will take off, becoming the main growth engine of the small cell market by 2014. In the meantime, carrier WiFi will be a faster-growing solution for offload, as it is often less complex to deploy compared to cellular-based small cells.”


  • The number of small cell units sold is forecast to grow nearly 40-fold from 2011 to 2016, including 3G microcells and picocells, 4G mini eNodeBs, and 3G and 4G public access femtocells
  • Infonetics expects global small cell revenue to grow at a 73% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) during the 5 years from 2011 to 2016
  • Asia Pacific dominates the small cell market and will continue to do so through at least 2016
  • Issues affecting small cell deployment vary from region to region and include backhaul link quality and affordability, inter-cell interference, spectrum availability, and regulatory restrictions


Infonetics’ biannual Small Cell Equipment report provides worldwide and regional market size, forecasts, analysis, and trends for 3G microcells, picocells, and public access femtocells and 4G mini eNodeB (LTE) and public access femtocells (LTE). Vendors whose small cell solutions are tracked in the report include Airvana, Airwalk, Alcatel-Lucent, BelAir, Cisco, Ericsson, Huawei, ip.access, Motorola, NEC, Nokia Siemens Networks, Samsung, Ubiquisys, ZTE, and others. To buy the report, contact Infonetics:



Download OPTICAL report highlights, tables of contents and prospectuses at or our Research Calendar at



  • N. America (West), Asia, Latin America: Larry Howard,, +1-408-583-3335
  • N. America (East), Texas, Midwest: Scott Coyne,, +1-408-583-3395
  • Europe, Middle East, Africa: George Stojsavljevic,, +44-755-488-1623
  • Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan:

Infonetics Research ( 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. View Infonetics' brief About Us slides at

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"Infonetics expects global small cell revenue to grow at a 73% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) during the 5 years from 2011 to 2016."

Stéphane Téral, Principal Analyst
Mobile Infrastructure & Carrier Economics


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