Long term evolution (LTE (News - Alert)) backhaul needs are expected to grow, which should help spur the need for small cells for telecommunications companies, especially in populated areas. Recent research on the subject suggests dynamic trends in this market.

According to this report, the market for telecommunications microwave equipment sunk a bit in 2011, but analysts look for renewed growth. Ethernet and microwave gear is the area where most growth is expected, according to analysts with Infonetics (News - Alert) Research, an international market research and consulting firm.

What drove down the small cells microwave market in 2011 can partially be attributed to Clearwire’s (News - Alert) heavy investment in small cells in 2010. The investment was in preparation for a transition to long-term evolution backhaul. Despite that shift by Clearwire, Infonetics believes there will be a 60-plus percent annual growth rate for small cells-related equipment revenue through 2016.

The growth is forecasted as such because of a more available both licensed and unlicensed microwave equipment related to small cells. More communities are focusing on deploying 4G networks, so the usefulness of small cells should be in higher demand, especially since the growing need for mobile backhaul solutions is hitting residential and metropolitan areas the hardest.

The leading provider of equipment related to small cells in the last quarter of 2011 was Huawei (News - Alert), a leading global information and communications technology solutions provider. However, Ericcson, also a world leader in telecommunications equipment, is still the top seller for the year.

In 2011, telecommunications companies bought $5.3 billion in microwave equipment, including equipment related to small cells. The sale of Ethernet equipment, according to Infonetics, was up 19 percent in 2011. But the growth for the Ethernet microwave equipment is expected to grow five times its current rate by 2016, hitting $5.6 billion that year.

Due to the growth in 3G and 4G networks, Infonetics expects small cells to increase proportionately, which will make microwave the go-to backhaul solution the small cells located outdoors.

With the massive adoption of mobile devices, wireless networks are nothing short of overwhelmed. Large scale deployments of small cells can deliver the necessary capacity increases, improving the performance at the cell edge.

Taqua is playing a critical role in this shift, with its W-Series of Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) Backhaul Systems. Any vendor’s small cell is provided connectivity and each small cell is connected to a Taqua (News - Alert) Remote Backhaul Module by way of standard Ethernet.

Some industry insiders are predicting 62 million small cells by 2015, with approximately 56 million being femtocells. The growth rate predicted is astounding considering there are only three million small cells in operation today.

As many as 40 million were expected to be in operation today, according to predictions made four years ago, but the prices of the small cells is what is slowing the growth, according some operators. But because of the drive for long-term evolution backhaul, the growth of small cells is expected to live up to expectations this time around.

Edited by Stefanie Mosca