More Outdoor Small Cells Will Ship in 2012 than Macrocells

16 Jul 2012

​In its latest issue of outdoor small cells market data, ABI Research forecasts that the equipment market will grow to be worth $14.3 billion by 2017. Including outdoor femtocells, picocells, microcells, and carrier Wi-Fi access points, at just over 1 million units forecast in 2012, the number of outdoor small cells sold will surpass the 954,000 macrocells forecast for this year.

“We believe that outdoor small cells have distinctly different characteristics, including the need for carrier grade software, wider temperature ranges, and more sophisticated RF from indoor consumer and enterprise femtocells and we are now forecasting these separately from indoor residential and enterprise units,” says Nick Marshall, principal analyst at ABI Research.

Outdoor small cell units will grow at 53.8% CAGR to reach 9.3 million units by 2017. The fastest growing small cell class is the outdoor femtocells, with output power less than 1 Watt, which will grow at 81.5% CAGR to reach 1.5 million units and $5.4 billion by 2017.

The emerging carrier integrated Wi-Fi class of small cells will also grow rapidly at 60% CAGR to reach 6.8 million units and $1.7 billion in 2017. “We forecast that the femtocell and carrier Wi-Fi small cell classes will make up 50% of the revenue and 89% of the units in 2017. The remaining 50% of the revenue and 11% of the units in 2017 are represented by the more expensive pico- and microcell classes,” continues Marshall.

ABI Research believes there is now real momentum in the outdoor small cell market and expects significant growth moving forward, however, the industry will need to deal with some challenges including backhaul provision, interference mitigation, network management, policy integration, and roaming. Innovative solutions are now being offered by many vendors in the ecosystem and these challenges are well on the way to being solved which will accelerate service provider adoption.

These findings are part of ABI Research’s Small Cells and Carrier Wi-Fi Research Service which includes additional Competitive Analyses, Vendor Matrices, Market Data, and Insights. 

ABI Research provides in-depth analysis and quantitative forecasting of trends in global connectivity and other emerging technologies. From offices in North America, Europe and Asia, ABI Research’s worldwide team of experts advises thousands of decision makers through 40+ research and advisory services. Est. 1990. For more information visit, or call +1.516.624.2500.


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