Infonetics Research Says Small Cell Market On Pace to Reach New Heights

On Wednesday, market research firm Infonetics Research went where few researchers have gone before.

Today, the firm released excerpts from its new Small Cell Equipment market size and forecast report.

The first-of-its-kind report tracks small cells in the context of low power mobile network nodes known as microcells, picocells, and femtocells (public space, not residential) made by the “Big 5” RAN vendors.

The “Big 5” consists of Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia Siemens Networks, and ZTE. Of course, you also have small cell specialists like ip.access, Contela, Juni, Minieum Networks, Ubiquisys, and others.

“While small cells, including microcells and picocells, have been used for the past two decades to improve voice coverage, now mobile broadband is shifting the game to capacity upgrades,” says Stéphane Téral, principal analyst for mobile infrastructure and carrier economics at Infonetics Research.

“Our small cell forecast is not a pie-in-the-sky, new-technology-honeymoon forecast based on futuristic 2020 technology visions of small cells on every city block,” adds Principal analyst and Infonetics co-founder Michael Howard. “We developed our forecasts after a solid year of work by several Infonetics analysts and our research team with mobile operators, manufacturers, and chip suppliers.”

Among the projections resulting from the comprehensive research and exploration:

  • Infonetics forecasts the global small cell market to grow rapidly, with about 3 million small cells shipping and the market worth about $2.1 billion in 2016.
  • For the next 3 years or so, most operators are planning small cells only in the urban core
  • Infonetics expects public space femtocells to make up more than 50% of all small cells shipped in 2012
  •  In 2013, Infonetics expects 3G small cells to make up 63% of global small cell shipments, with 4G small cells kicking off and ramping up rapidly to make up 37%
  • 4G small cell shipments will overtake 3G small cells by 2015