Market Insight

RESEARCH NOTE - Outdoor Small Cell Backhaul an Over $2 Billion Market by 2020

June 14, 2016

Richard Webb Richard Webb Director, Research and Analysis, Service Provider Technology

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IHS Technology analysis and commentary on the first half (H1) 2016 Outdoor Small Cell Mobile Backhaul Equipment Biannual Market Tracker, which includes data for the half-year ended December 2015, follows. 


Outdoor small cell deployments were off to a slow start, but are now showing signs that they will grow significantly over the next several years, driven mostly by mobile operators' common need to enhance saturated macrocellular networks and improve the mobile broadband experience by adding capacity through dense low power node deployments. The global outdoor small cell backhaul market is forecast to reach $2.2 billion in 2020, with a five-year (2016–2020) compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 80 percent.

Network operators are currently testing and field trialing many outdoor small cell and backhaul options in dense urban areas to choose technologies, products and vendors, as well as to develop operational procedures. The issues of urban deployment are gradually being resolved, and more mobile operators are now starting to make their initial, albeit modest, deployments.

And although most deployments to date have been in urban and metro areas, there is life in the rural segment too: Vodafone and other operators are using small cells for outdoor coverage in rural areas, where the backhaul is not difficult and usually wireline.

The real ramp in outdoor small cell deployments will begin in 2017, with steady growth through 2020 as deployments proliferate. Consequently, a cumulative $6.4 billion will be spent worldwide on outdoor small cell backhaul equipment between 2016 and 2020.

More Small Cell Mobile Backhaul Market Highlights

  • For the full-year 2015, the global outdoor small cell backhaul equipment market totaled $117 million
  • Wireless (microwave) solutions account for the bulk of small cell backhaul revenue
  • Of the individual technologies, point-to-point (P2P) microwave and Ethernet fiber were the small cell backhaul revenue leaders in 2015
  • 42,600 outdoor small cell backhaul connections were deployed in 2015, rising to 878,000 in 2020

Small Cell Report Synopsis

The IHS Technology Outdoor Small Cell Mobile Backhaul Equipment Biannual Market Tracker provides worldwide and regional market size, forecasts through 2020, analysis and trends for equipment, connections and cell sites by type. It tracks equipment including digital subscriber line (DSL) modems and digital subscriber line access multiplexers (DSLAMs); Ethernet over copper and fiber; <6GHz microwave; point-to-point (P2P) microwave; point-to-multipoint (P2MP) microwave; and licensed and unlicensed millimeter wave.

For information about purchasing this report, contact the sales department at IHS in the Americas at (844) 301-7334 or [email protected]; in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at +44 1344 328 300 or [email protected]; or Asia-Pacific (APAC) at +604 291 3600 or [email protected].

Research by Market
Mobile & Telecom
Mobile Networks
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