Femtocell Opinion, comment and reviews

Small Cell End of Year Report 2018

ReportCardAs 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. CBRS has progressed but will not be commercially deployed until early 2019, still holding much promise. Open Source projects like TIP seem to be gaining momentum, but it remains to be seen if there were be a large breakthrough. Mainstream media continue to hype 5G. Political decisions could affect the market share of major RAN vendors. Business and regulatory issues will set the pace for next year rather than technology development alone.

My overall view is that last year’s predictions were generally correct and in the right direction but progress towards them has been slow and steady. This often seems to be the case with Small Cell forecasts.

Looking back at 2018

I had forecast three main areas of opportunity this past year

CBRS could become the poster child for small cell take-up, overcoming many of the regulatory and operator barriers to deployment.

As is often the case where significant regulatory change is required, the timescale has stretched into early 2019. Nonetheless, the FCC has now made its decision, issued the rules leaving it down to execution. Even the thorny issue of PAL licences has been resolved.

So it will be 2019 where I am much more confident we will see CBRS commercially launched, with Private LTE applications dominating indoors and major operators (both MNOs and Cable MSOs) deploying for outdoor use. I think much of what can be achieved will work perfectly well with the simpler GAA mode, and that many considering paying for PAL licences might ask themselves whether that will be worthwhile, particularly for indoor applications.

2) Growing pressure to improve the quality of service inbuilding should drive operators to approve and connect with lower cost solutions. A mix of DAS combined with Small Cell, including the distributed radio systems from Huawei and Ericsson, address the needs of larger buildings while standalone small cells continue to offer great value for smaller properties.

Perhaps it's just my service provider, but I remain perplexed that the quality of service in-building remains patchy and inconsistent. I've tried Wi-Fi Calling but find myself frequently disconnected for no apparent reason (good Wi-Fi signal, only user in the building, no obvious interference). Few operators have invested in approving 4G enterprise femtocells for their networks, and several have withdrawn the 3G products on offer. Larger buildings can justify the higher expense of a DRS or DAS solution, and we see Huawei have forecast substantial growth of their Lampsite 2.0 and 3.0 product. What's needed is for building owners and enterprises to have a clear solution on offer at a commercially justifiable cost and understand who will facilitate this for them. Network operators generally still don't see the benefits and do not actively support others spending money on equipment that would offload their own networks.

3) 5G will continue to have a high profile. Early commercial trials will provide fixed wireless service in the US and a few high profile sites in other countries. Otherwise, cellular service with small cells will predominantly be based on LTE.

I'd say my prediction here was spot on. There are numerous small scale trials of 5G proving the concept, but it's far from mainstream yet. The definition of 5G does include LTE, and I think we will see further development and investment in 4G technology for quite some time. There is great advantage in being compatible with existing smartphones.

Why not add your thoughts with a comment below.

(You can even do so anonymously)

Meanwhile, season’s greetings to all our readers and we wish you a prosperous and successful 2019.

Hits : 1924

Comments   

#1 Dave Burstein said: 
David: I'm getting conflicting estimates of small cells for 2018, 2019,2020. What are you seeing in the data? Which analysts should I follow? Thanks
0 Quote 2018-12-20 19:05
 
#2 Stuart holyoak said: 
I think the landscape for point 2 has substantially changed David, in the UK market at least. There is a large small cell based, Neutral host, venue funded market developing. Watch this space......
0 Quote 2018-12-20 19:33
 
#3 ThinkSmallCell said: 
@Dave: Analyst forecasts for the small cell market are quite difficult to predict, not least because the definition/scop e of a small cell varies considerably. Some focus on unit shipments where others concentrate on overall market value. Look back at the track record of forecasts for leading analysts to assess whether the basis of their earlier predictions were valid - its not just the numbers they report but the reasons and indicators that are valuable to understand.

@Stuart: I'd be very happy to see that change! There are some great products and services out there, but I had felt that operators were still not yet fully embracing and facilitating third party deployments within more attractive technical (and therefore commercial) basis.
0 Quote 2018-12-22 11:53
 
  • 4

    more

    Residential

    Residential

    A significant number of users continue to report poor mobile coverage in their homes. There will always be areas which are uneconomic for mobile operator to reach. They range from rural areas

    ...
  • 4

    more

    Enterprise

    Enterprise

    The term Enterprise addresses any non-residential in-building including hotels, convention centres, transport hubs, offices, hospitals and retail outlets. It's not just intended for businesses to

    ...
  • 4

    more

    Urban

    Urban

    Urban small cells (sometimes also named metrocells) are compact and discrete mobile phone basestations, unobstrusively located in urban areas. They can be mounted on lampposts, positioned on the

    ...
  • 4

    more

    Rural

    Rural

    A rural small cell is a low power mobile phone base station designed to bring mobile phone service to small pockets of population in remote rural areas. These could be hamlets, small villages or

    ...
Categories
Backhaul Timing and Sync Chipsets Wi-Fi LTE TDD Regional

Popular Categories

Follow us on...

footer-logo

Search