The global small cell networks market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.80% during the forecast period (2022-2030). A wireless network base station with a tiny footprint and limited range and radio frequency (RF) power output is called a "small cell." High-bandwidth applications and data-capable devices are responsible for this exponential growth in mobile data traffic. Small cell deployment is a top priority for many operators because 60% of those weighing their options believe it is necessary for their 4G services. Leading carriers like AT&T, Vodafone, and Softbank have already utilized their massive infrastructures and are distinguishing themselves with small-cell technology.
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Increasing Adoption of 5G in Small Cell Technology
By enabling connectivity across numerous end-user verticals, the deployment of 5G network technology is predicted to revolutionize the field of various broadband services. Approximately 45% of urban areas have been covered by 5G networks in early rollout trials, according to GSMA. Small cells are necessary to operate both 4G and 5G networks because they provide the increased data capacity that 5G demands. Additionally, by eliminating pricey rooftop systems and installation fees, they aid carriers in cutting expenses. They are also anticipated to assist in improving mobile device functionality and battery life.
Without the need to construct costly macro sites, small cells can provide a cost-effective alternative for filling up coverage gaps, increasing capacity, and making the networks ready for 5G. Macro base stations are anticipated to leave many places unconnected because more high-frequency bands will be used for 5G deployments. Therefore, it becomes necessary to use miniature, low-powered small cells to improve user experience, particularly in cell-edge areas.
Growing Need for Network Management
Growth in the market is expected to be fueled by factors such as rising mobile device demand and increased use of 5G network technology. However, factors such as the increased need for maintaining such networks of tiny cells may restrain the market during the forecast period. While small cells can provide better network coverage at a lower cost, their implementation has introduced new difficulties, such as creating small cell networks' backhaul. A small site often needs a backhaul network that is simple to construct, affordable, and enables improved user experience across the RAN.
The lack of a single ideal solution makes it challenging to construct a small site backhaul network, requiring compromises in areas such as cost, capacity, and coverage. In order to satisfy the expanding demands of small cell deployment, it is crucial to have acceptable backhaul solutions. There are numerous technological possibilities for backhauls, including fiber optics, copper lines, wireless backhaul (microwave), and satellite backhaul. Each technology solution currently available has pros and cons of its own.
Rising Demand for Mobile Devices
The market is fueled by the advancement of network technology and connectivity tools and the expanding global demand for mobile devices. This need has driven the change in how IT services are supplied and has given market participants tremendous opportunities to strengthen their market position. The demand for laptops, smartphones, and tablets has significantly increased since the pandemic-related lockdown was lifted since staying in has become the new normal. For instance, the South India Zonal Manager of Acer India Pvt Ltd., Navaneeda Giri, claims that working from home and learning from home has given them a chance to meet the rising demand for tablets and laptops as businesses have been ordering laptops by the thousands, and schools are switching to laptops or tablets for online education.
Additionally, demand from emerging nations has been attributed to the decreasing cost of mobile devices and constantly evolving technologies. The GSMA estimates that there will be 6 billion mobile devices in use worldwide by the year 2020. Customers are also setting the trend of using mobile devices to communicate with businesses for various reasons, including the use of various channels, including apps, mobile web, and instant messaging to research items, make purchases, and get technical support. These factors are anticipated to create tremendous opportunities for market growth over the forecast period.
The global small cell networks market size is segmented by the operating environment and end-user vertical.
Based on the operating environment, the global market is bifurcated into indoor and outdoor.
The indoor small cell networks segment is the highest contributor to the market and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.20% during the forecast period. Situations indoors are inherently more complicated than those outside. Large and medium-sized public spaces, small and medium-sized businesses, and households are typical examples of indoor scenarios. These settings have different in-service requirements, which call for a variety of solutions. Small cells are essential to networks because they provide the coverage and capacity required outside the macro network in a simple, economical way that allows for good performance in enclosed spaces. For instance, Ericsson's indoor small cells provide the expanded voice and data coverage and capacity needed indoors. Indoor Small Cells increase coverage in areas with heavy traffic and limited capabilities, such as colleges, well-known tourist destinations, stadiums, music halls, convention centers, hospitality settings, and large meeting spaces.
Increasingly, small cell technologies enable the densification of outdoor networks rather than only providing coverage inside structures like arenas or buildings. Every significant communications service provider (CSP) has stated ambitions for network densification, and several have even begun integrating tiny cells into their networks. Such circumstances are likely to encourage the installation of a tiny cell in an outdoor setting. Extensive capacity, flexibility, and coverage are made possible by outdoor small cells.
Additionally, according to a Small Cell Forum (SCF) report published in July 2020, split 6 S-RU-based solutions are for interior enterprises, while split 7.2 O-RU-based solutions are primarily intended for outdoor campuses and urban and private networks. Players like Allied Wireless Infrastructure Services (AWIS) offer federal, state, and local government services for small outdoor cells that support multiple service providers, networks with virtually unlimited capacity, simple configuration, support for rising bandwidth demands, and proximity for enhanced speed.
Based on the end-user vertical, the global market is bifurcated into BFSI, IT and telecom, healthcare, retail, and others.
The retail sector owns the highest market share and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.40% over the forecast period. Due to the widespread use of small cell networks for indoor and outdoor applications, retail is one of the key investors and adopters in the sector under investigation. Among the critical targets for the retail vendors are lifestyle centers, shopping malls, retail complexes, and markets. With the rollout of the 5G network, small cell networks will see a significant increase in adoption in the years to come. In recent years, small cell networks have established themselves as a viable option for all retail enterprises seeking improved mobile coverage and capacity indoors and outdoors.
It is anticipated that the small cell network will play a significant role in the BFSI industry due to increasing investment in upgrading networking and communication infrastructure in various BFSI facilities due to investment in technologies like 5G. Small cell technology allows the use of more recent technologies that can benefit banking and financial institutions. Small cell networks are particularly noticeable in consumer-facing scenarios, which are always seeking new ways to attract clients and enhance their loyalty and expenditure, much as the growing number of bank branches and retail banking. Many ATM locations and banking branches can use for small cell deployments because they already have a physical presence, a power source, and some network connectivity.
The expansion of the analyzed category is mainly driven by the expanding investment in communication and network infrastructure made by businesses and service providers such as data center vendors. Furthermore, businesses are accelerating segment growth further due to the growing popularity of cloud computing and DAS (distributed antenna systems). As businesses become more dependent on high-quality mobile connections, tiny cells are being used by IT and telecom companies worldwide. Small cell networks are becoming increasingly popular among large corporations, corporate campuses, and small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).
The global small cell network market is bifurcated into four regions, namely North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and LAMEA.
Asia-Pacific Dominates the Global Market
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Asia-Pacific is the most significant shareholder in the global small cell network market and is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 7.95% over the forecast period. China, Japan, South Korea, and India are among the Asia-Pacific nations that significantly contribute to the small cell network market. The region's small cell network market share is expanding due to the rapid development of 5G technology and mobile connectivity in such nations. For instance, Shanghai previously committed to spending CNY 10 billion on developing a 4G network in 2020, with the city embracing the building of 50,000 small indoor stations by that time. Such advancements in indoor coverage technology and small indoor stations promote market expansion.
North America is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 6.90% over the forecast period. Globally, mobile broadband and smartphone adoption are most prevalent in North America. To redefine the spectrum, the operators in North America have started to shut down 2G and 3G networks. This pattern is anticipated to persist as regional operators transition to 5G networks by utilizing a combination of low, mid, and high-band spectrums. According to Ericsson's Mobility Research, North America's average smartphone data traffic might rise from 8.5 GB per user per month in 2019 to 45 GB per month in 2025, a factor of more than 5. In addition, 65% of respondents in the United States are more enthusiastic than respondents in other countries regarding faster mobile internet speeds due to the introduction of 5G in small cell technology.
Europe is one of the leading continents for small-cell proliferation. The quick rollout of 5G services in the area is the main driver for the market. Mobile network evolution in the region is driven by the rise in connectivity demand brought on by an increase in smartphone ownership. The COVID-19 pandemic, which made robust network construction essential, is another factor boosting expansion. In addition, the EU Commission published its Implementing Regulation regarding small-area wireless access points in July 2020. The primary goal of the rule was to make it easier and faster to establish 5G networks, which should be made possible by a deployment that is not subject to permits. These factors are expected to drive the small cell networks market over the forecast period.
According to GSMA, Latin America had 15 million 5G connections in 2020. By 2025, the figure is projected to increase to 62 million, further feeding the demand for small-cell networks in the area. A set of regulations that will enable the government to grant spectrum for the deployment of 5G services was recently authorized by Brazil's telecom services regulator Anatel in February 2021. The regulator reaffirmed the requirement that mobile operators do not have to rely on dynamic spectrum-sharing technology. The deployment of networks by Brazilian Carriers will be required by 2022, Anatel added. Local vendors recognize the potential in this market and are actively pursuing acquisitions to expand their 5G capacities.
The global small cell network market’s major key players are Nokia Networks, American Tower Corporation, Qualcomm Technologies Inc., ZTE Corporation, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd, Verizon Wireless, Commscope Inc., Qucell Inc., Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd, NEC Corporation, and Airspan Networks Inc.