All that carrier talk about small cell deployments is translating into impressive growth figures, a new report from IHS indicates.
In a research note posted Monday, the firm said a ramp in small cell deployments across the globe last year led to a 43 percent increase in the number of units shipped as well as a double-digit (26 percent) increase in revenue. A total of 1.7 million small cell units shipped in 2016, producing some $1.5 billion in revenue, the firm noted.
For the first time, IHS said the volume of indoor units shipped topped that of outdoor equipment.
“Much of the growth was driven by an increase in rural and remote deployments—as well as strong indoor small cell activity from the enterprise and urban segments, which are seeing an increase in public venue deployments,” IHS analysts observed. “The prior year also saw impact being made by enterprise small cell services offered by mobile network operators (MNOs) to attract the high-value corporate/vertical organization customer segment.”
By region, IHS revealed the Asia Pacific area led the way in shipments, accounting for 59 percent of volumes. That region was followed by North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and the Caribbean and Latin America.
IHS projected the small cell market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8.4 percent through 2021. By that time, global revenue from the segment is expected to hit $2.2 billion. While indoor units are expected to continue to dominate shipment volumes, IHS said outdoor units will continue to generate more revenue because of the higher cost per unit.
The numbers won’t come as much of a surprise to industry-watchers, who have been hearing about planned small cell deployments from nearly every carrier for a while now.
Just last week, T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said the Un-carrier has a “pipeline” to build around 20,000 small cells nationally. Several thousand of those will be put online this year, and will come on top of the 1,000 small cells the carrier lit of in 2016.
Stateside, the coming proliferation of small cells has already drawn the attention of the FCC, which is looking at ways to address barriers slowing deployments. Verizon – as well as fellow carrier AT&T and industry groups like CTIA and WIA – recently chimed in on that proceeding to urge the commission to help clear a “minefield” of municipal regulations hindering small cell rollouts, but received pushback from municipal organizations who say federal intervention would complicate matters further. More on that debate here.
A more detailed global small cell forecast from IHS can be found here.
Filed Under: Infrastructure