Wireless operators will spend $6.5B on small cell backhaul by 2019, says analyst firm

Wireless operators may still be in the early stages of their small cell strategies, but as they accelerate their plans it could be a boom for wireless backhaul equipment and wholesale providers.

According to a new IHS Infonetics report, a total of $6.5 billion will be spent worldwide on outdoor small backhaul equipment between 2015 and 2019.

In 2015, the research firm has forecast that the global small cell mobile backhaul equipment market to grow 143 percent over 2014.

The main focus of wireless operators installing deploying small cells has centered on penetrating indoor locations, including public venues like sporting stadiums that traditionally have suboptimal macro cell coverage.

The outdoor small cell mobile equipment market is also poised for growth. Infonetics said that about 75,000 outdoor small cell backhaul connections are projected to be deployed in 2015, rising to 960,000 in 2019.

Point-to-point (P2P) microwave is anticipated to account for just under a third of total small cell backhaul equipment revenue in 2015, the highest of any technologies used for backhaul.

But equipment vendors are just one of two segments that will benefit from the small cell build out. With many wireless operators indicating they would work with third-parties to install and operate their small cell infrastructure, a number of wireline telcos and competitive service providers that provide backhaul services are adding turnkey services to their arsenals.

While their initial focus has been on providing traditional bandwidth solutions, including a mix of IP-based Ethernet and increasingly dark fiber, a number of these providers have been offering mix of everything from site acquisition, equipment installation, permitting, and network management.

Some service providers like FairPoint and Zayo have created specific divisions within their company to serve small cells.

Take FairPoint. Driven by the interest for small cell backhaul, the Northern New England telco launched a construction services division earlier this year.

Zayo, which says it provides backhaul and services to 1,200 sites in its territory with a mix of fiber and turnkey network solutions, said that interest in turnkey services varies by the wireless operator.

For more:
- see the release

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