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?
Femtocell Opinion, comment and reviews
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.
There’s been quite a surprising result from T-Mobile USA’s unusual tactic to offer free, unlimited video streaming to its customers. Traffic levels are said to have reduced in some cases, very much counter to intuitive expectations. We ask why, investigate what’s happening and consider some of the wider implications.
One announcement you may have missed late last year was a statement by Verizon Wireless CFO, Fran Shammo, in response to suggestions that Verizon would run out of capacity due to lack of spectrum. We reported this in our newsletter but wanted to highlight it further. It’s important because it crystallises the medium term investment strategy that we can expect to see worldwide – moving away from just buying more spectrum to using it more efficiently.
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.
The introduction of LTE has been a profitable time for the cellular infrastructure industry. A large part of that is down to large new swathes of spectrum being made available rather than purely higher spectral efficiency or faster headline data rates. Some operators almost seem to have suffered from indigestion as they equip their networks to take full advantage. Once the quick returns from low hanging fruit have been gained, it will be the smarter decisions that determine longer-term competitive advantage.
The telecom industry seems to be going through a period of consolidation, with substantial mergers and acquisitions activity seen in many continents. We consider how the deployment of Small Cells and other RAN technologies affect such moves, and look at whether a small cell deployment would be an advantage or not in such cases.
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