Iain Gillott, president and founder of IGillottResearch (IGR), said he wanted to avoid the hype and hyperbole of the industry vendors in his research, which forecasts the U.S. market for metrocells, femtocells and picocells will reach more than 21 million units by 2017. So he went straight to the potential users and the buildings and campuses likely to be a part of the coming wireless growth.
“We didn’t ask the carriers or the vendors how many units they are going to sell, because they don’t know,” Gillott said.
The study uses the percentage of residences that reported bad or no cell coverage in their homes to ascertain the potential market for femtocells. The key to technology deployment is customer satisfaction, researchers found.
“Everyone in our survey rated coverage at home as very important. A third of households now do not have a landline phone, making coverage in the home really, really important,” Gillott said. “Households with a femtocell give their carrier a full grade higher than those without.”
To gauge the total number of enterprise picocells that may be needed on corporate campuses or inside companies’ buildings, IGR estimated how many buildings there are in the United States, the total number of companies and the number of employees. The formula estimates that each picocell would handle 32 people simultaneously.
Metrocells, or small cells deployed carriers, is the hardest market to estimate, according to Gillott.
“We developed traffic and capacity models in [the dense urban environments] of quite a few of the metro markets and where the networks are experiencing congestion,” Gillott said. “We then deduced how many sector channels, or individual metrocells, will be needed to relieve that capacity crunch.”
IGR also looked at the all-important business case for deploying small cells.
Gillott believes carriers will need little urging to engage in a multi-pronged approach to upgrading and backfilling for capacity and throughput on their cellular voice/data networks. He expects they will use the same deployment chain that they use for macrocells.
The business case for enterprise picocell deployment, however, is a not as simple, Gillott noted. An office or campus with a couple hundred people requiring half a dozen picocells had no obvious payback for carriers that deploy.
“Picocells are a managed part of the network, needing proper placement and fiber backhaul. They are not Wi-Fi. It is a complex deployment. Does the carrier want to pay to put all these picocells in? Corporate IT people will need to go back to school to learn this type of wireless deployment,” he said.
IGR’s study, U.S. Small Cells Total Addressable Market, 2012 – 2017: Sizing a Growing Opportunity can be purchased and downloaded directly from IGR’s website, providing a digital copy of the research. https://igr-inc.com