The small cell 5G network market is expected to register a CAGR of over 32% over the forecast period 2020 - 2025. Small cells deliver a cost-effective solution for filling coverage gaps, growing bandwidth, and getting the networks ready for 5G without the need to build more expensive macro sites.
- Growing mobile data traffic is augmenting the market's growth positively. According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast, Mobile data traffic is expected to grow at a CAGR of 46% from 2017 to 2022, reaching 77.5 exabytes per month by 2022. Additionally, Cisco's study also states that by 2022, a 5G connection will generate 2.6 times more traffic than the average 4G connection.
- With the increase in the number of mobile data traffics, the demand for advanced telecommunication network is growing. By the deployment of the 5G, the rising data usage will meet the efficient network quality required. Emerging network developments needs is expected to boost the market for small cell 5G network over the forecast period.
- In today’s environment, small cells are required for the applications in need of increased bandwidth as well as the increasing number of connected devices. For instance, According to Cisco Systems Inc., 500 billion devices are expected to be connected to the internet by 2030. Moreover, 5G telecom operators are focused on deploying small cell under low-frequency band for offering enhanced bandwidth services to the customer.
- Additionally, over the forecast period, the small cell deployment is anticipated to increase to meet the growing demand for data traffic in IoT applications.
- Asia-Pacific is expected to witness highest growth rate owing to the increase in adoption of mobile devices and various partnership between vendors in the area of 5G. For instance, In January 2019, TPG Telecom, in partnership with China's Huawei, placed small cell boxes on power poles across the suburb of Ryde, in Sydney's north-west, to augment the Australian governments plans for a 5G rollout.
- The impact of Covid-19 outbreak on the mobile industry is significant. In the short term, 5G rollout in several markets will be delayed further and its services will be hardest hit. Consumers may not in a position to spend on small cell 5G devices as it is still considered niche. According to GSMA Intelligence’s consumer survey, currently majority of the respondents in most markets had limited interest in upgrading to 5G services. For instance, according to the report, nearly 80 per cent of consumers in the UK did not plan to upgrade.
Key Market Trends
Major Deployment in Indoor Operating Environment Boosting the Market's Growth
- Small cells play a significant role in meeting the demand for indoor voice and data coverage. The indoor segment is expected to be in high demand, owing to their wide range of functionalities, such as high indoor network connectivity and enhanced network coverage.
- The deployment of indoor small cells is more due to the major deployment of small cells in public places, such as stadiums, shopping malls, college campuses, and residential buildings.
- Moreover, indoor small cells are expected to grow significantly over the forecast period, as people spend most of the time indoor, and they are unsatisfied with their indoor cellular connection performance. For instance, According to the Ericsson ConsumerLab, people spend 90% of their time indoors, and 60% of the users are unsatisfied with their indoor cellular connectivity.
- With growing urbanization in developing countries, in-depth coverage in urban areas is increasingly complex, and network deployment to meet Mobile Broadband (MBB) data capacity growth is increasingly difficult. Small Cells can provide full connectivity for all indoor scenarios. In particular, mobile traffic is necessary for ultra-dense areas such as sports stadiums, urban avenues, shopping mall, and big transport hubs, among others.
- Ericsson has developed 5G Radio Dot, a small cell radio designed to meet the advanced indoor mobile broadband performance requirements demanded by 5G. Additionally, Samsung Networks is deploying small cells in large volume for indoor coverage for Reliance Jio, which is expected to have over 99% population coverage in India.
North America is Expected to Hold a Major Share
- North America is expected to hold a major share owing to the high adoption of advanced technologies such as 5G. Carriers in the United States are increasingly deploying small cells to densify their networks, particularly in urban areas while minimizing costs as they increase capacity in advance of 5G deployments. For example, Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile have shown positive approach toward commercializing 5G networks.
- These operators have announced billion-dollar deals with network equipment vendors, such as Samsung, Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei, and ZTE, to build up their 5G network infrastructure
- According to the Trade group CTIA forecast, the small cells in the US will grow from around 86,000 in 2018 to over 800,000 by 2026. Sprint confirmed it now counts 30,000 outdoor small cells, and T-Mobile it counts 23,000 small cell or distributed antenna system sites.
- According to the Ericsson Mobility Report, 5G subscriptions are expected to account for 55% of mobile subscriptions by the end of 2024 in the North America region. The growth in 5G subscription are expected to create opportunities for the market over the forecast period.
- In June 2019, U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), reintroduced the Streamlining the Rapid Evolution And Modernization of Leading-edge Infrastructure Necessary to Enhance Small Cell Deployment Act or STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act. This legislation updates the Communications Act to better reflect developing technology and facilitate the rapid deployment of 5G networks to meet consumer demand by setting reasonable standards for public review of infrastructure.
The small cell 5G network market is neither consolidated nor fragmented. Some of the established vendors in the market include Qualcomm Technologies Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., Ericsson and Nokia Networks Inc among others. These companies are executing mergers and acquisitions, strategic partnerships, and product development to introduce new products. However, many innovating vendors such as Baicells Technologies Co., Ltd have entered the market which might change the competitve landscape over the forecast period.
- February 2019 - Nokia Networks announced two new additions to its AirScale small cells portfolio which extend the high performance of 5G both outdoors and indoors and support a wide range of use cases. A compact millimeter-wave radio provides cost-effective 5G outdoor coverage of extremely high traffic areas such as airports, stadiums, and busy pedestrian zones. Additionally, a new 5G pico Remote Radio Head for the Nokia AirScale Indoor Radio System enables an upgrade of indoor coverage to 5G without replacing installed hardware, even in complex buildings such as hospitals and shopping malls.
- October 2018 - Qalcomm Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, announced a partnership with Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. to develop 5G small cells, opening the door for massive 5G network speed, capacity, coverage, and ultra-low latency.
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