Industry Voices—Madden: CBRS will be big

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Unlike a lot of other technologies, CBRS is poised for growth.
Joe Madden Industry Voices

My company has a reputation as the “naysayers” of the mobile market. No, we didn’t believe in femtocells. No, don’t bet on robotic surgery. In most cases, we see people pushing technology at a market, instead of a market that pulls technology in.

CBRS looks different. We’re investigating five different potential business models, and at least three of them are likely to be big winners. Altogether, the odds of a strong growth market are very high for CBRS, because there’s a rich mixture of mobile operators, cable operators, neutral hosts and enterprises that all have ideas for mobile LTE. In addition, a few companies like Paladin Wireless and Cal.net are already moving forward with fixed-wireless deployments.

The FCC has just voted to move one step toward making the PAL licenses more useful. The vendors are coming out with low-cost infrastructure and the first IoT modules are already available. This thing is moving quickly.

In every business model that we’re studying, CBRS looks good.  

  • Mobile operators like the additional spectrum for capacity. 
  • Cable operators need access to mobile LTE to avoid paying an arm and a leg for MVNO data.  
  • Venues can deploy CBRS small cells at $0.30 per square foot, instead of DAS at $3 per square foot.
  • Enterprises have a long list of ideas ranging from autonomous machines to security cameras, where operator-based LTE would be too expensive but a private CBRS LTE solution is cheap and reliable.   

Put them all together and you have a market with multiple paths to success. We see a few speed bumps in terms of handset availability, regulatory uncertainty and core network connectivity. But we believe that all of these are going to be resolved quickly.

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Our forecast comes out this week. And unlike our depressing forecasts for femtocells, Carrier Wi-Fi, and LTE base stations, we are predicting explosive growth for CBRS small cells. This is a hot one.

Joe Madden is Principal Analyst at Mobile Experts LLC, a network of market and technology experts that analyze wireless markets. The team provides detailed research on Small Cell, Base Station, Carrier Wi-Fi, and IoT markets. Mr. Madden currently focuses on trends in 5G, IoT, and Enterprise markets for wireless infrastructure. Over 26 years in mobile communications, he accurately predicted the rise of Digital Predistortion, Remote Radio Heads, Small Cells, and the rise of a Mobile IT market. He validates his ideas with mobile and cable operators, as well as semiconductor suppliers, to find the match between business models and technology. Mr. Madden holds a physics degree from UCLA. Despite learning about economics at Stanford, he still obeys the laws of physics.