HetNets to drive shipments of 5m small cells by 2017
London, 03 December - Driven by the growing adoption of data-hungry smartphones and tablets and the on-going transition from voice to data services, carriers worldwide are struggling to cope with the explosion in data traffic on their networks. In a recently published forecast study, ARCchart expects that the daily traffic handled by carrier networks worldwide will ramp at a CAGR of nearly 31% over the next five years, eventually accounting for 102 PB of data, almost 6 times higher than the 17 PB of daily traffic for 2011.
To cope with such high levels of mobile traffic, wireless carriers need to invest in network updates and use their resources efficiently, an undertaking which has resulted in over 100 commercial LTE network deployments worldwide, with nearly 350 carriers committed to the 4G technology.
However, due to economic and regulatory constraints, traditional methods for expanding network capacity will only have limited success. The additional deployment of LTE and legacy 2G/3G RAN macro cell sites and procuring further resources from the frequency spectrum will not be sufficient to provide the capacity for the predicted growth of traffic. Consequently, together with their on-going transition to LTE, carriers have begun to deploy Heterogeneous Networks (HetNets) to address these ever increasing capacity demands.
HetNets combine small cells with lower transmission power positioned within the coverage area of a macro cell, thereby enhancing both capacity and coverage. HetNets can use the same or a different RAN technology to the carrier's macro cell deployment, and can even encompass Wi‑Fi hotspots that dynamically offload capacity from the carrier's cellular network.
Driven by this evolution, the ARCchart forecast study projects annual unit shipments of 1.4 million macro cells and 5 million small cells by 2017.
The idea is that carriers will aim to deploy their small cells as a dense network capable of supplying enormous quantities of bandwidth in the high-traffic areas it's most needed. This will take a large part of the load off the macro network, becoming a key resource in helping the network support the huge levels of data traffic anticipated over the coming years.
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