DAS facing heady competition from small cells

Small cells are quickly becoming as popular as distributed antenna systems (DAS) when it comes to delivering improved wireless service within enterprises, according to a new study from ABI Research.

The small cell market is roughly one-third the size of the current DAS market. However, ABI expects small cell adoption as a coverage option for small- to medium-size enterprises will catch up with DAS by 2016," said ABI.

The firm noted that DAS vendors are only just now starting to realize that smart cells pose a challenge to their business. ABI predicts that DAS and enterprise small cell equipment shipments will each reach the $2 billion mark by 2016.

Both markets are growing at a steady rate, said ABI. It noted DAS is particularly strong in large and medium-size public buildings that exceed 150,000 square feet, while enterprise small cells are becoming popular in smaller buildings of fewer than 100,000 square feet.

There will even be an intersection of the two approaches over time--particularly in medium-size buildings--in which DAS will be fed by small cells, said Aditya Kaul, practice director, mobile networks at ABI.

"In 2017 DAS systems will largely be driven by traditional macro base stations, repeaters and remote radio heads. But close to one-fourth of DAS systems will be fed with small cells as they are easier to install, smaller in size and cheaper than other solutions," said ABI.

In a separate study released earlier this month, ABI ranked Corning MobileAccess as the top in-building DAS equipment vendor based on the combination of innovation and implementation. Commscope and TE Connectivity claimed overall second and third spots in ABI's vendor matrix. The top three companies on the innovation scale included Corning MobileAccess, Zinwave and Alvarion, while the top three companies as ranked on implementation were Commscope, Corning MobileAccess and TE Connectivity, said ABI.

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