Small Cells and Wi-Fi Offloading is the third consecutive report from Berg Insight analysing the emerging global market for small cell base stations and Wi-Fi offloading solutions. This strategic research report in the NGT Research Series from Berg Insight provides you with 160 pages of unique business intelligence, including 5-year industry forecasts and expert commentary on which to base your business decisions.
How can heterogeneous networks solve future mobile network capacity needs?
Mobile operators are experiencing fast growth in mobile data and signalling traffic as more customers adopt smartphones, tablets and PCs with mobile broadband connections. Berg Insight forecasts that the number of active smartphone users worldwide will grow from 1.2 billion at the end of 2012 to 4.0 billion at the end of 2018. Total mobile data traffic in cellular networks have more than doubled every year since 2007 and is forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 50 percent from 2012 until 2018. Subscribers are also becoming more reliant on mobile phones as their primary or only device for voice communication and therefore expect ubiquitous network coverage.
In order to meet the rising demand, operators need to use a combination of approaches. These include improving the mobile macro layer by using more spectrum and increasingly advanced radio air interfaces with higher spectral efficiency, making the macro layer denser by installing more base stations in traffic hotspots, as well as introducing heterogeneous networks (HetNets). HetNets are composed of multiple radio technologies, architectures, backhaul solutions and base stations of varying transmission power. Examples of low power nodes include Remote Radio Units (RRU) and Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS), as well as small base stations including microcells, picocells and femtocells. Spectrum is a scarce resource and densification of the macro network gets more costly when site acquisition in metropolitan areas becomes more difficult. Spectrum reuse and deployment of multiple small cell base stations thus becomes more attractive. However, large-scale small cell deployments in public areas remain challenging since finding suitable backhaul and power can be difficult.
Several operators have already started to deploy microcells, picocells, femtocells and integrated carrier Wi-Fi network solutions. Since the introduction of 2G networks, operators have for instance deployed microcells to fill coverage holes in outdoor locations where macro cell deployments were unfeasible and DAS to enhance coverage in public indoor areas. Early femtocell deployments have also mainly focused on enhancing coverage for residential customers. Some operators have also started to use femtocells in various indoor public areas to enhance coverage and capacity. With the introduction of
Installed base of small cell base stations, million units
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