"The challenge is on for small cell operators. They've been scrambling to test and trial a large number of technologies, products, and topologies for outdoor small cells, and they're under growing pressure to make the rubber meet the road -- not only from their technology and operations people, but even their business planners," said Michael Howard, co-founder and principal analyst for carrier networks at Infonetics Research.
But, according to the current Infonetics' assessment, it won't be easy.
These operators face some daunting challenges: outdoor small cell gear isn't small enough or cheap enough yet, and there are problems backhauling in dense urban areas -- includiing municipal regulations regarding the look, size, and color of the equipment and who can mount equipment on streetlights, utility poles and building sides.
Even if they managed to solve all these issues, they're still going to have to pass the fiscal financial test. The much-needed outdoor small cell deployment won't fly without a viable business model.
That being said, national, regional and local government leaders must be proactive and do everything possible to remove the anticipated barriers to accelerated wireless broadband deployment.
Furthermore, property owners and building landlords must do their part to ease the burden on mobile network service providers who plan to deploy additional broadband infrastructure in their area.
Broadband deployment is a socioeconomic catalyst for change which offers a competitive advantage. As demand increased, gaining access to this important infrastructure will require forwarding thinking leadership and public/private partnerships. Savvy community leaders will remove known barriers to progress -- clearly, it's in their own best interests.
Small cell and LTE backhaul market study highlights include:
- 86 percent of operators surveyed plan to backhaul small cell traffic to nearby macrocell sites via a variety of locations, including buildings, streetlights, and traffic and utility poles.
- Fiber is the preferred backhaul technology among respondent operators when available and cost effective, but the various forms of microwave-non-line-of-sight (NLOS), standard microwave, and millimeter wave-will be deployed most often.
- When it comes to cost of ownership, a majority of respondents require the 5-year TCO of a small cell deployment to be within 10 percent of a typical macrocell deployment.
- By 2016, those surveyed expect in-building and outdoor small cells (microcells, picocells, and public access femtocells) to handle around 1/4 of mobile traffic.