As operators densify their networks with small cells, Wi-Fi and distributed antenna systems (DAS), they will require additional test equipment to make sure these network tools are working efficiently. In fact, research firm Frost and Sullivan estimates that HetNet test equipment revenues will grow from $1.6 billion today to more than $2.5 billion by 2022.
According to Frost and Sullivan analysts, over the next two to three years commercial deployments of LTE will intensify, driving growth in the test market. In addition, wireless carriers will try to save on cap ex spending by deploying more small cells, DAS and Wi-Fi as opposed to traditional cell sites. This will cause a significant rise in HetNet deployments, which will in turn lead to more investment in network testing tools.
Frost and Sullivan expects lab-based test equipment to make up 66 percent of the revenue in test equipment while field-based equipment will account for 34 percent of the revenue. In addition, Frost and Sullivan estimates that the Asia Pacific region will be the biggest market for HetNet test equipment, comprising 50 percent of the revenue, followed by North America with 40 percent of the revenue. Europe will make up the smallest amount with just 10 percent of the revenue.
Of course, beyond HetNet deployments, test equipment makers are already starting to consider what needs to be done to develop test gear for 5G networks, which are likely to be deployed in the 2020 time frame.
Although there is no 5G standard yet, the 5G vision is typically described by wireless industry's leaders as a network that delivers speeds of 20 Gbps, offers extremely low latency and connects billions of devices. For text equipment makers, the combination of various spectrum frequencies that 5G will likely encompass, as well as the data rates and multi-antenna architectures means that new test equipment instrumentation will have to be created to handle the demands of 5G.
Frost and Sullivan notes that some of the benefits of HetNets -- like VoLTE, videconferencing and hosted PBX service -- will also be an important part of 5G in the future.
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