Due to the rise of smart devices, mobile data traffic is straining the resources of mobile service providers. To help improve this problem, companies use what is called mobile data offloading to small cells. These cells operate in licensed and unlicensed spectrums with minimal range, and by dumping or off-loading the data more bandwidth becomes available.
The forecast by Mobile Experts takes a look at more than 50 companies that support backhaul systems and comparisons of Point-to-Point (PTP) and Point-to-MultiPoint (PTMP) systems to determine the growth and cost of this technology.
Small cells are made up of femtocells, picocells, microcells and metrocells and they generally operate with a range of 30 to 600 feet in urban and indoor locations and longer distances in rural areas. With the increase of smartphones, tablets and other mobile computing devices, short-range wireless access that doesn’t use the main or macrocell is very beneficial for service providers.
"Fiberoptic cable is the ideal solution, but is almost never available in the right places for high-capacity small cells. We expect the early small cell market to use RF backhaul below 6 GHz, to address the initial market requirements for throughput below about 80 Mbps. However, by 2016 we expect significant adoption of multiband small cells with embedded Wi-Fi and much higher throughput requirements in the backhaul. We anticipate an additional market segment where high-throughput millimeter wave backhaul links will be required," said Dr. Jonathan Wells, Principal Analyst at Mobile Experts.
Some of the companies mentioned in the forecast include Alcatel-Lucent, Canon, Cisco, Ericsson (News - Alert) (BelAir), Motorola, Samsung and others. The five-year forecast from 2012 to 2017 also looked at:
- Trends in pricing and revenues
- Optical Fiber and copper comparison
- Line-of-sight (LOS), non-line-of-sight or near-line-of-sight (NLOS) backhauls
- Analysis of regional small cell deployment
Small cells offer multiple applications besides helping offset heavy loads for their mother companies. They are being used by public and private organizations as a location tool for emergency responders, indoor Wi-Fi services, social media status updates for location based applications and other uses.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman