As we approach the holiday season, it’s once again time for me (and other analysts) to reflect back on the year gone by, revisit our predictions and make some new ones for the year ahead. Progress in each of the main four sectors of small cells has been quite different. There has been much hype and distraction from 5G alongside much promise for 2018 from CBRS. Equipment vendors are under more financial pressure, both large and small, and we've seen several acquisitions. The larger vendors have all become more visible with Small Cell solutions. Business and regulatory issues have set the pace rather than technology development alone.
Femtocell Opinion, comment and reviews
Many will be taking a well deserved holiday summer break and perhaps catching up on some reading. My choice wasn’t the latest thriller but instead a book on 5G by William Webb. He provides some strongly argued reasoning to justify why we shouldn’t assume 5G will be a natural winner. I wonder if it could be a distraction from a more commercially sensible evolution?
Virtualisation has been a hot topic throughout the industry in recent years with questionable benefits to date. The latest initiatives look to virtualise the RAN but in practice this means choosing where to place certain network functions. But is there a risk of confusion from too many competing options? We consider what business benefits these are most likely to deliver?
Hats off to TMN for highlighting this end-of-life product announcement from Cisco in April that had been generally overlooked by the media. We summarise the announcement, discuss some of the history/reasons behind it and comment on implications for the industry.
Steve Saunders, Founder and CEO of LightReading, published a provocative article about the current state of network virtualisation. He believes the industry has abandoned its proven standardisation process resulting in confusion rather than achieving their promised benefits. Will his approach solve the problem and get the industry back on track?
While it’s easy to split the small cell market into indoor and outdoor, there are many different industry market sectors each with their own specific requirements and timescales. Which ones would benefit most from improved wireless communications as part of their digitization transformation and which are most likely to be demanding more from their wireless communications?
Network vendors have enjoyed a recent glut of spending from the initial rollout of LTE, but are now in the throws of a downturn. Dell’Oro Group forecast cumulative revenues between 2017 and 2021 will represent the weakest five year period this century, with $137 Billion of infrastructure spend. Nonetheless, the analyst firm is optimistic about the longer term and expects a return to growth with the initial 5G rollouts towards the end of the period.
We can easily overlook or misinterpret some of the headline figures quoted for mobile phone subscriptions, device types and usage. Here are some of the latest statistics and insights into the proportion of mobile phones and subscriptions worldwide. This includes the specification of the median mobile phone worldwide.
We may think that the major network operators or the three major RAN vendors are driving the strategy for cellular service for the next decade. But with so much activity and value switching to content, Apps and advertising, the big four Internet Giants all have a major stake. We look at what each has been doing and consider the implications.
What is the process by which new vendors and suppliers can be introduced, challenging and competing with the large established providers? With Small Cell growth arguably more constrained by non-technical aspects, we ask what needs to change to accelerate take-up.
As we approach the holiday season, it’s once again time for me (and other analysts) to reflect back on the year gone by, revisit our predictions and make some new ones for the year ahead. We've seen some steady progress throughout the year with several leading small cell vendors gaining traction. New features, especially use of unlicensed and shared spectrum, promise easier access to both speed and private deployments in 2-3 year timeframe.
New Indian network operator Reliance Jio shocked the industry by launching with a price plan of free unlimited national calls and 10 Gbytes of data for just $7.50/month. Their competitors dropped prices to match. But these prices aren’t unique to the country. We compare prices, consider the implications and some other relevant initiatives.
Would you use different network services if it gave you more privacy? While the industry debates the finer points of RF between Wi-Fi and traditional cellular service, perhaps a more significant factor in end-user choice will be related to how their data is shared. We find that consumers are unaware of how much their private data is being shared, while at the same time Internet encryption and security continue to improve.
Is the last bastion of telecommunication service – the humble and basic voice call – is about to get its come-uppance? Devalued to the point that unlimited minutes are included in many bundles, bypassed through VoIP and many internet services, has Apple now opened Pandora’s box to finish off any value left?
The general consensus has been that Small Cells were used either to solve poor coverage issues (especially indoor) – so called not-spots – or to add capacity. A third reason is becoming visible today – improving Quality of Service and customer satisfaction. CTOs from European operators explained their logic at recent public conferences.
After three years of very healthy performance, the large scale RAN market is beginning to decline. Stefan Pongratz of Dell’Oro Group forecasts an eight percent reduction during 2016 alone. He thinks that Small Cell revenues, already over $1 Billion annually, won’t grow quickly enough to fill that gap. I asked him how this could affect the shape and size of the vendor community looking forward.
There seems to have been an increasing trend of new Forums and branding around the Small Cell industry of late. We’ve drawn up an initial list below and made some observations about which ones you might take seriously and ask if existing organisations are meeting their members’ (and industry) needs.
It takes many months for the Small Cell Forum to complete a work program. So the contents of this week's Release 6 entitled Smart Enterprise published during Mobile World Congress would have been determined quite some time ago. In a fast changing industry, I'd say they've selected the right topics and maintained their focus on the major issues of the industry today. Their key theme is Enterprise including Neutral Host and LTE-U/LAA. I spoke to Alan Law, their Chairman, to find out how their extensive guidance on best practice is being adopted.
While we take some time to digest the firehose of announcements around Mobile World Congress, I thought it would be useful to review some key statistics about the current state, shape and size of the global mobile network industry.
Intense speculation around Sprint’s small cell network strategy has included it being termed Network Suicide. Meanwhile, Sprint shares were up almost 20% on the day of their latest earnings report. So does adopting an urban small cell strategy make for good business or signal a downturn? Sprint's large spectrum holdings and lack of fibre/wireline assets are causing a switch to NLoS Wireless backhaul, which affects their choice of RAN architecture to use traditional Small Cell rather than Cloud RAN.
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- Adding capacity through additional spectrum not always as straightforward as small cells
- How will the indeterminate shape of 5G encompass Small Cells?
- Alcatel-Lucent reinvigorate Enterprise Small Cells
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- Unlocking the Enterprise for Small Cells – a new White Paper
- Are we in danger of confusing and complicating the scope of Small Cells?
- Wi-Fi and Small cells dominate future capacity growth for mobile networks
- Mobile and Small Cell Industry Statistics. Did you know just how big the market is?
- Double deprivation of limited communication in rural areas
- Skip the 5G hype and invest in more Small Cell methodology
- How should Network Operators track usage to determine where Small Cells fit?
- Did you get a Small Cell or a Smartphone for Christmas?
- 2013 Small Cell End of Year Report Card