Small Cells Featured Article
New Report Predicts Microwave Small Cell Backhaul Market to Reach $6.4B in 2017
September 10, 2012
By Stefanie Mosca, TMCnet Managing Editor
Small cells have become a big topic as of late, and although the technology is anything but new, small cells have increasingly been penetrating the market over the past year as organizations and residential areas are starting to capitalize on the benefits that utilizing the technology can provide.
There have been a number of reports released in the past year alone concerning the projections of different areas of the small cell market. Just last month, for example, it was forecasted that small cells will match the challenge of mobile broadband traffic growth through 2017 as the technology will bridge the capacity gap for 3G networks until new spectrum is available. Also notable, in late July, ABI Research (News - Alert) predicted that the outdoor small cell market will reach$14.3 billion by 2017, with shipments including microcells, picocells, femtocells and carrier Wi-Fi access points outpacing shipments of macrocells by nearly 50,000 units.
In the most recent report to be released, ABI Research put out a follow up that predicts the market for small cell microwave backhaul equipment to grow to over $6.4 billion by 2017. This significant amount is actually up from the previous forecast of $1.5 billion for 2012, which represents a 35 percent compound annual growth rate.
According to the report, ABI Research expects fiber backhaul solutions to experience a healthy growth between 2012 and 2017 with small cell backhaul over fiber reaching almost 24 percent in 2017, up from seven percent in 2012, with regions like China and North America favoring fiber as a backhaul solution in many circumstances.
“Thanks to its NLoS properties and Point-to-Multipoint (PMP) hub-and-spoke architecture OFDM NLoS becomes the most popular backhaul technology for small cells in 2017,” says Nick Marshall, principal analyst at ABI Research. ABI Research believes that the millimeter wave bands from 60GHz to 80GHz (MMW LoS) will also prove compelling for small cell backhaul in many situations. Traditional Microwave LoS (6-38GHz) equipment for small cell applications is overtaken by these technologies and will represent only 13 percent of revenue and 10 percent of links in 2017.
Marshall speaks for ABI when he said that they believe that 4G/LTE (News - Alert) small cell solutions will again drive most of the microwave and fiber backhaul growth in metropolitan, urban, and suburban areas. According to the report, the research company has the stats to back it up. The report noted that by 2017 millimeter wave line-of-sight (MMW LoS) will accumulate 44 percent of revenue, or over $2.8 billion, with 23 percent of microwave links in 2017. Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing Non Line-of-Sight (OFDM NLoS) will also capture 31 percent of small cell microwave backhaul equipment revenue, or $1.9 billion, with 48 percent of links in 2017, and Wi-Fi will capture almost 19 percent of revenue or $784 million, with 12 percent of small cell backhaul links.
In the new report, ABI Research outlines the advantages and disadvantages of the main backhaul technologies under consideration for small cell backhaul, according to a recent statement. These backhaul technologies include backhaul over copper and fiber, sub 6GHz Wi-Fi, microwave LoS from 6-38GHz, MMW LoS from 60-80GHz, and sub 6GHz OFDM NLoS. The report also profiles 20 equipment vendors with small cell backhaul portfolios.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman
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