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Small cells to account for 88% of all mobile base stations by 2016

29 февраля 2012

The number of small cells deployed worldwide will grow 20-fold to 62.4 million in 2016, up from 3.2 million in 2012, to account for 88% of all base stations, according to a new report from Informa Telecoms & Media that was released at Mobile World Congress on Tuesday.

"In the course of this year there will be more femtocells than macro cells for all technologies combined [2G, 3G, LTE]," predicted Simon Saunders, chairman of the Small Cell Forum.

Small cells have proved that they are "useful well beyond the office and home environment they were originally developed for," he added

Mobile operators are looking to small cells to help them boost the capacity of their networks to meet growing data demand.

In addition, there is a trend from the vendor side towards integrating WiFi capability into small cells. ip.access, for example, earlier this month unveiled its first LTE-capable small cell solution with space for WiFi, should its operator customers require it. Meanwhile, Cisco on Tuesday announced that seven service providers have committed to deploying or trialling its integrated WiFi, 2G, 3G, and LTE small cell platform.

"This [combined WiFi and 3G] becomes not just offloading traffic but managing traffic," Saunders said. Carriers can automatically hand traffic across to WiFi when it is available.

Within the small cells market, femtocells will see the most rapid growth, with a 24-fold increase resulting in 59 million femtocells deployed by the end of 2016, compared with 2.5 million today. Meanwhile, public access small cells (or microcells and metrocells) will grow fivefold to 2.9 million, with picocells experiencing fourfold growth to 540,000.

"Small cells are set to drastically reshape mobile networks over the next few years as they become comfortably the most common form of base station worldwide," Dimitris Mavrakis, principal analyst at Informa, said in a statement. "Over the past few months alone we've seen a host of new operators make small cell announcements including major players like Telenor and Telefonica O2, as well as smaller providers like 3UK and Free in France."

Источник: Total Telecom

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