Small cell operators face myriad operational and financial challenges

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Campbell, CALIFORNIA, January 16, 2013—Market research firm Infonetics Research released excerpts from its Small Cell and LTE Backhaul Strategies: Global Service Provider Survey, which provides insights into operators' current and future plans for outdoor small cells and backhaul.

ANALYST NOTE

"The challenge is on for small cell operators. They've been scrambling to test and trial a large number of technologies, products, and topologies for outdoor small cells, and they're under growing pressure to make the rubber meet the road—not only from their technology and operations people, but even their business planners," notes Michael Howard, co-founder and principal analyst for carrier networks at Infonetics Research.

"But it won't be easy," continues Howard. "These operators face some daunting challenges: outdoor small cell gear isn't small enough or cheap enough yet, and there are problems backhauling in dense urban areas, not to mention municipal regulations regarding the look, size, and color of the equipment and who can mount equipment on streetlights, utility poles and building sides. Even if they managed to solve all these issues, they're still going to have to pass the fiscal test. Outdoor small cells won't fly without a viable business model."

SMALL CELL AND LTE BACKHAUL SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • 86% of operators surveyed plan to backhaul small cell traffic to nearby macrocell sites via a variety of locations, including buildings, streetlights, and traffic and utility poles
  • Fiber is the preferred backhaul technology among respondent operators when available and cost effective, but the various forms of microwave—non-line-of-sight (NLOS), standard microwave, and millimeter wave—will be deployed most often
  • When it comes to cost of ownership, a majority of respondents require the 5-year TCO of a small cell deployment to be within 10% of a typical macrocell deployment
  • By 2016, those surveyed expect in-building and outdoor small cells (microcells, picocells, and public access femtocells) to handle around 1/4 of mobile traffic

Infonetics analyst Richard Webb is hosting a Scaling Small Cell Backhaul webinar on Feb. 19. Click here to learn more or attend.

SURVEY SYNOPSIS

For its 36-page small cell and LTE backhaul survey, Infonetics interviewed purchase decision makers at 22 independent wireless, incumbent, competitive, and cable operators from EMEA, North America, and Asia Pacific about their current and future plans for small cell and macrocell backhaul. The study provides insights into mobile traffic handling and specific backhaul issues related to outdoor small cells, in-building small cells, and macrocells. To buy the report, contact Infonetics: http://www.infonetics.com/contact.asp.

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. View Infonetics' brief About Us slides at http://bit.ly/QUrbrV.


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