The market for small-cell backhaul in outdoor settings is poised for rampant growth next year, according to a new study from Infonetics Research.
Operators are increasingly looking to small-cell technology to plug gaps in existing coverage and boost the capability of their networks.
Pressure on current investments is growing as consumers rush to adopt new smartphones and other devices that can be used to access high-speed internet services.
“We look for outdoor small cells to really kick into high gear beginning in 2014, and predict a cumulative $6 billion will be spent globally on outdoor small cell backhaul equipment between 2013 and 2017,” said Richard Webb, the directing analyst for microwave and carrier WiFi at Infonetics.
According to Michael Howard, a principal analyst at Infonetics, operators are currently in the process of testing small-cell technologies and selecting suppliers, but they look set to move into the commercial deployment phase in coming months.
Infonetics says outdoor small-cell backhaul will mainly be used to add capacity and extend coverage in high-traffic urban areas, as well as provide coverage in rural communities.
Expecting the number of outdoor small-cell backhaul connections to grow from just 7,000 in 2012 to more than 850,000 in 2017, the company also notes that “unlicensed millimeter wave” is the technology that currently accounts for the largest share of revenue.
The North American market appears home to most activity in this area, with AT&T (Dallas, TX, USA), Verizon (New York City, NY, USA), Sprint (Overland Park, KS, USA), Clearwire (Bellevue, WA, USA) and Comcast (Philadelphia, PA, USA) all investigating, planning and conducting field trial deployments of small-cell backhaul technologies.
Infonetics also reckons that a cumulative $44 billion will be spent on macrocell mobile backhaul equipment between 2013 and 2017.