If we could safely predict one business issue for telecom providers, it’s that they will always have to increase performance of their networks. Data traffic will only grow, as will the expectations of consumer and businesses.
For this reason, mobile networks are enhancing their networks with small cells. Small cells are a highly effective way to deliver coverage in any environment, be it residential, commercial and rural spaces. Plus, when you strategically deploy small cells, they’re ideal for network innovation such adding applications and IoT services.
As a reminder, outdoor small cells are usually located on parts of an existing infrastructure like utility poles, street lamps, and traffic signal poles. This allows for high density of potential sites where there may be sensitive deployments. Network providers can integrate Wi-Fi on small cells, which can provide a competitive advantage. Even more, this allows for 3G, 4G LTE and Wi-Fi service from a single deployment.
These are only some of the reasons why the smart cell market will soon become an integral part of mobile networks. Of course, some industry analysts feel there are hurdles to small cell adoption.
For example, they believe it’s not so much a matter of the technology itself, but more about the challenges with installation and high costs. That’s because most of the costs associated with small cells has to do with contextual issues, but not the small cell itself. This means there is a scarcity of physical locations for small cell installation. There is a finite amount of accessible poles, buildings, and roofs in a specific region. In short, and useable space is hard to come by; it’s a precious asset for all network providers.
While there is some truth in that reality, there’s no doubt that small cell deployment will only increase with the rise in demand for high-quality data services on LTE networks. Skeptics need only to consider the inventible, constant increase of mobile subscribers and corresponding use of data.
Market research consultancy iGR Wireless Research, a leading wireless and mobile communications authority, has a similar outlook. According to them, small cells will become a major element of mobile operator networks, especially as the industry transitions to 5G.
In 2016, there were 1.7 million units of small cells shipped, which resulted in $1.5 billion in revenue for manufacturers. There’s nothing small about those numbers. And there’s a good reason why: Network providers clearly see the benefits of small cells, today and well into the future.