Reports bullish on prospects for LTE RAN, multimode femtos

A couple of new reports indicate heady days ahead for sales of LTE radio access network (RAN) equipment, including small cells.

In its assessment of the overall RAN market, Dell'Oro Group is forecasting that the market for LTE RAN equipment will continue to expand, with European demand now helping drive the market.

The firm reported that the LTE RAN market grew nearly 60 percent during 2013's third quarter, nearly offsetting declines in sales of GSM, WCDMA and CDMA network gear. Dell'Oro said that after three quarters of consecutive year-over-year RAN growth, the total RAN market, excluding TD-SCDMA and service provider Wi-Fi--declined about 1 percent year-over-year in the third quarter 2013.

Growth is slowing in some of the more advanced mobile broadband markets but is ramping up in other markets such as Europe, where LTE RAN revenues more than doubled year-over-year," said Stefan Pongratz, director of mobile RAN research at Dell'Oro.

In addition, growth in China is expected to offset declines it the United States and Japan, resulting in the total RAN market growing during 2014, according to the firm.

Looking at the leading infrastructure providers, Dell'Oro said Ericsson remains the LTE RAN leader with a 15-point, four-quarter trailing share lead over Huawei. During the third quarter of 2013, Alcatel-Lucent passed Nokia Solutions and Networks to take the third-place spot in LTE RAN revenue share. However, NSN maintained the third-place ranking LTE position on a four-quarter trailing basis.

Dell'Oro noted that it expects revenues from sales of small cells to account for about 1 percent of total RAN revenues in 2014.

Similarly, ABI Research is reporting significant growth in LTE and 3G/LTE multimode femtocell shipments, though 3G is expected to remain the predominant femto access technology over the next five years.

Shipments of 3G/LTE multimode femtos are expected to grow 350 percent in 2014, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 198 percent estimated between 2013 and 2018, ABI said.

ABI said femtocell management systems are essential for successful femto deployments. "With the standardization of management system interfaces, vendors are looking to go beyond basic management functions and integrate advanced features in order to provide operators with higher level of control, easier management, and room to implement additional services," the firm said.

It added that indoor location-based services are expected to become a crucial aspect of femto services.

For more:
- see this Dell'Oro release
- see this ABI release

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