April 8, 2015 — We all know that every year is forecast to be the “year of the small cell.” We thought it was going to be 2014, but alas…it was not to be. Early in the year, even I thought 2014 would be the jump-off year for small cells. Even so, I too, was wrong. As 2014 drew to a close, it became a bit clearer that 2015 held promise.
So, as 2015 matures a bit, there seems to be more confidence that 2015 will be the year of the small cell. Here’s why. Research firm Mobile Experts, in its 2015 market study is bullish that small cell shipments will surge this year – to the extent that certain segments will double and triple over the course of this year.
Why would just a market research study from one company make me confident? Because it is how they do the study. Most research firms use a combination of history and polling of players. This one is a bit different. It uses a mobile data density model. According to Joe Madden, principal analyst for Mobile Experts, they have developed a model during 2012 and 2013 that predicts the use of small cells based on mobile data density, using a metric for Gbps per square kilometer, per Megahertz, better known as GkM.
An interesting approach, but one that looks at the numbers, and doesn’t count on opinions or extrapolations of historical data. Of course, it isn’t that simple, and most research reports have value in prognostication. It is just that this is a different metric, and I can see the correlation. Plus, pinging’s from such events as Mobile World Congress saw an incredible array of small cell products that were in production, some even tallying up sales – way more than what was presented last year. And finally, there is a ramp up in partnerships among the varied small cell segments.
On other vectors, companies like Anadigics is expanding their portfolio of small cell RF PAs. There is news on several other fronts, such as small cells targeted for operation in a number of platforms; 4G, LTE Unlicensed (LTE-U), License Assisted Access (LAA), and LTE Wi-Fi Access (LWA).
There is also movement in the Small Cells as a Service (SCaaS) platform from OEMs such as Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia Networks, and Ericsson and infrastructure owners such as Towerstream, Crown Castle, Cloudberry Mobile, and Virgin Media Business. These services ease small cells into deployment in 2015.
Dare I say that 2015 will be the year of the small cell? – 80/20 odds says it will – anyone want to play odds with me? email me!
Ernest Worthman is the editor of Small Cell Magazine. Email Me