IHS Technology said small cell rollouts increased worldwide during 2015 but noted that the small cell equipment market remains tiny compared to the global 2G/3G radio access network (RAN) market.
In its latest report on the small cell market, the research company said 1.4 million small cell units were shipped in 2015, which resulted in a 44 per cent increase in revenue to $1.2 billion (€1 billion). However, the total RAN market amounted to $22 billion in 2015.
The significant growth in deployment will nonetheless be good news to small cell proponents and was mainly driven by deployments in rural and remote areas and an uptick in enterprise small cell activity.
IHS noted that the global small cell market is expected to surpass $2 billion by 2019 -- provided that service provider announcements and plans continue to materialise. It added that indoor small cell shipments are on track to surpass shipments of outdoor units by 2016; outside of China, they already do.
However, the company noted that outdoor small cell revenue will continue to be higher because outdoor small cells are significantly more expensive than indoor small cells.
In the area of enterprise small cells, market leaders in alphabetical order are Airvana, Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, ip.access and SpiderCloud.
Speaking to FierceWireless:Europe during Mobile World Congress, ip.access founder and CTO Nick Johnson said the pace of small cell deployments is picking up as mobile operators begin to understand the benefits of the technology and businesses demand coverage improvements.
Johnson said that his company was seeing a lot of pent-up demand for business-oriented products from European companies, and that operators were starting to realise that services such as Wi-Fi calling are perhaps not the best option in terms of boosting usage of their macro networks.
- see this IHS Technology release
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