Small cell adoption by carriers appears to be ramping up, despite the fact that most operators still worry about interference management, reports Ian Scales.
Researcher Infonetics says its numbers show a major acceleration of mobile telco adoption of small cells over the next five years or so. The company surveyed operators last month (November 2011) and reports that operators expect to double their small cell estate next year to 12 per cent of total tranceivers, up from 6 per cent this year.
This indicates a real ramp-up of small cell use is under way, it says.
"We were surprised to find that operators we surveyed already offload about 10 per cent of their traffic over indoor and outdoor small cells, WiFi hotspots, and residential femtocells - and they intend to triple that to about 30 per cent at some point in 2013 or later," the press release has Michael Howard, principal analyst and co-founder of Infonetics Research saying.
The new generation of outdoor small cells (rather than indoor femtos) will see the most growth, says Infonetics (see below our Main Agenda: Are 4G small cells set to transform mobile network economics? video).
Informa Telecoms & Media says its numbers also show an accelerating uptake and says it expects both 3G and, increasingly, LTE small cell deployment, both indoor and outdoor, will be a key trend next year.
It says there are currently 37 small cell commercial deployments with more on the way, including Telecom Italia, SK Telecom poised to launch the world’s first LTE femtocell service and Telefonica O2with its ‘Boostbox’ service in the UK.
In the US Sprint, the first operator to deploy femtocells, has now rolled out 500,000 units and expects to exceed 1 million by 2013.
Informa says "several European and Asian operators including Vodafone UK, Japan’s Softbank and France’s SFR, announced they reached scale by surpassing 100,000 deployed units. Vodafone, which recently launched a marketing campaign around its UK femtocell offering, now offers femtocells in 12 countries and plans to deploy across the whole group."
According to Dimitris Mavrakis, Principal Analyst at Informa: “In the past some people feared that provisioning or cell planning would limit the scale of femtocell deployments. It is now clear that deployments are routinely reaching volume with multiple operators surpassing 100,000 deployed units, and moving towards the millions."
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The Main Agenda: Part 1 - Are 4G small cells set to transform mobile network economics? Sponsored by Alcatel-Lucent