Infonetics: In-building, outdoor small cells to handle quarter of mobile traffic by 2016

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By 2016, telecom operators expect in-building and outdoor small cells, such as microcells, picocells, and public access femtocells, to handle around one-quarter of mobile traffic, according to the latest research from Infonetics Research.

A full 86 percent of the operators surveyed by Infonetics plan to backhaul small cell traffic to nearby macrocell sites using a variety of locations, including buildings, streetlights, and traffic and utility poles

Operators will deploy various forms of microwave technology, such as non-line-of-sight, standard microwave and millimeter wave, although fiber is their preferred backhaul technology.

Small cell operators have 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," noted Michael Howard, principal analyst for carrier networks at Infonetics Research.

In a separate study, ABI Research predicted that operators would roll out 500,000 outdoor small cells this year.

Outdoor small cell units will increase at a 52.7 percent compound annual growth rate to reach over 3.5 million units by 2018.

 "The level of discussions and debates around the deployment of outdoor small cells suggests that there is a lot of collective brainpower working hard at getting these deployed cost effectively and swiftly, which gives us confidence that the market is moving in the right direction," said Aditya Kaul, practice director for mobile networks at ABI.

Both studies indicate that the market for outdoor small cells will grow, fueled in part by the explosion of 4G LTE networks.

For more:
- check out Infonetics Research's data
- see ABI Research's estimates

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