January 14, 2016 — This will be the year of the small cell. Every year since 2013 has been the year of the small cell, but finally, it is going to happen.
The technology is maturing. The value of small cells is being seen in a number of venues. Carriers are getting on board. Last year saw some larger-scale rollouts and many, many ad-hoc deployments across a variety of venues – stadiums, city centers, business enterprises, malls and the like. While the numbers aren’t earth shattering, they are sufficient to build a momentum that will only accelerate in 2016.
This year is expected to see at least a four-fold increase in enterprise small cell deployments. And urban small cells are expected to increase by a factor of three compared with 2015. Residential small cells will remain largely stagnant in growth rate but remain the largest shipping segment of small cells until they will be surpassed by the enterprise and urban small cells in 2018.
The economies of scale in costs start to pay off. Costs for the hardware will stabilize but the cost of backhaul still has to be reined in. Location issues are being understood by the location providers and installation and mounting is also coming under control.
Overall, 2016 will be the beginning of what may be one of the largest shifts in cell deployments in the last 30 years.