Infonetics: Small cell operators face myriad operational and financial challenges

Market research firm Infonetics Research released excerpts from its Small Cell and LTE Backhaul Strategies: Global Service Provider Survey, which provides insights into operators’ current and future plans for outdoor small cells and backhaul.  Contrary to popular belief, it won’t be a cake walk for small cell operators, according to Infonetics.


For its 36-page small cell and LTE backhaul survey, Infonetics interviewed purchase decision makers at 22 independent wireless, incumbent, competitive, and cable operators from EMEA, North America, and Asia Pacific about their current and future plans for small cell and macrocell backhaul. The study provides insights into mobile traffic handling and specific backhaul issues related to outdoor small cells, in-building small cells, and macrocells.

“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,” notes Michael Howard, co-founder and principal analyst for carrier networks at Infonetics Research.

“But it won’t be easy,” continues Howard. “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, not to mention 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 test. Outdoor small cells won’t fly without a viable business model.”

To buy the report, contact Infonetics:

Meanwhile, Alcatel-Lucent is a huge supporter of small cells:

Small cells could solve the mobile broadband capacity crunch, By Paul Golden

A combination of more data-hungry devices and higher service expectations on the part of users has created
a ‘perfect storm’ for mobile broadband providers, who are likely to look to small cells to address some of their
network coverage and congestion issues.  According to the International Telecommunication Union, there were 872 million active mobile broadband subscriptions last year. Based on growth rates for the previous 12 months it is reasonable to assume that there are now more than one billion users worldwide. 

The pressure this growth is placing on networks has been well documented. A survey conducted by YouGov found
that 77% of mobile broadband users in the UK encountered some form of quality of experience issue over the last 12
months. More than half complained of slow speeds and 42% reported connection problems. The survey suggests that the availability of time sensitive, data-heavy applications and services has created a generation of more demanding users, but this does not mean that coverage and broadband speeds are not a legitimate cause for concern. UK regulator Ofcom’s research into mobile broadband speeds published earlier this year found that network availability and performance varied significantly – even within small geographic areas.

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