Analyst: 98% of operators say small cells are essential for the future

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Operators worldwide overwhelmingly believe that small cells will be an essential network component for their networks in the future, according to a new report from Informa Telecoms & Media.

The research firm said that its latest research into small cell usage shows that 98 per cent of operators contacted believe that small cells will be key elements of their network architecture going forward. Informa found that operators think LTE will be the biggest technology driver for small cell deployments over the next five years, although interest in LTE Advanced is growing.

Informa's survey of mobile operators also established that 55 per cent were most interested in public access small cell deployments over the next year, followed by enterprise rollouts with 35 per cent of operators.

However, almost half of those contacted registered their concern surrounding planning issues (finding suitable sites, power, etc.) for outdoor metro deployments, with 35 per cent noting that backhaul from small cells could present a challenge.

Informa analyst Dimitris Mavrakis said in a statement that operator attention over the next year months will be focused on the public access models which had been undergoing intense trials over the past year.

"With public deployments set to start in earnest, the next major stage in small cell evolution surrounds the effective incorporation of Wi-Fi. Although this technology is being added to new models, there is work to be done to ensure that traffic is managed across all radio types intelligently," he said. "We're seeing this work start in the Small Cell Forum and WBA--the fact that Cisco is now building small cells incorporating Wi-Fi can only help this movement."

The study, which collected input from 280 respondents mainly centred on Asia, Europe and North America (where more than 30 per cent of whom were operators), said there are now 46 small cell deployments by operators, including nine of the top 10 operators by revenue globally.

For more:
- see this Informa Telecoms & Media release

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