New Research Report: “Small Cell Ecosystem: Challenges and Opportunities”

Athens, Greece, New York City, NY and Singapore, June 5, 2014 – Market research firm ExelixisNet and advisory services firm Xona Partners have released their 2014 small cell market insight report: “Small Cell Ecosystem: Challenges and Opportunities.” The report examines mobile operators’ plans and deployment strategies of small cells and backhaul solutions along with vendor and technology preferences. The research is based on experience gathered by operators from market trials of small cells and wireless backhaul solutions conducted to evaluate the ecosystem deployment readiness and impact of small cell roll-out on operator financials and network performance.

Elias Aravantinos, Lead Analyst at ExelixisNet commented “In the past three years market forecasts of small cells have been high. Yet, to date, only a fraction of the forecasted numbers has materialized. One would ask: what is the hold up? Today, operators have a wide variety of small-cell solutions at their disposal. The result is a long evaluation cycle to converge on a best-fit solution. This has not dissuaded operators in the USA from testing multiple solutions in contrast to operators in other regions who are focused on a singular technology. While the end result has been the same, the first mover will establish a new manifesto around how networks will be built in the future. This is disruptive for small cell equipment vendors.”

Small Cell Ecosystem: Challenges and Opportunities – Highlights

  • Over 50% of the surveyed operators say they expressed the need to start deploying outdoor small cells in 2014 while our analysis of readiness points to longer timeline.
  • Fiber remains the operator’s first choice for backhaul. However, operators are actively investigating alternative solutions where the cost/performance equation is better optimized for small cell deployments.
  • Traditional wireless backhaul vendors are dominating the high-frequency space while new entrants are protagonists in the low-frequencies.
  • Operators are overwhelmingly asking for multimode LTE, 3G, and Wi-Fi outdoor small cells. This puts tremendous pressure on the backhaul network capacity requirements that certain technologies would fall short of meeting.

Frank Rayal, Partner at Xona Partners added, “Heterogeneous networks have been taken for granted as a necessary path to increase wireless capacity. Small cells have been a catalyst for a wave of capital investment and innovation that will define the networks of the future. Yet, small-cell deployments have lagged market expectations. In our research, we take a discerning look at small cells from multiple angles to identify the challenges that have forestalled deployments and the opportunities available to the wireless ecosystem to capitalize on critical gaps that must be addressed in order to realize scalable small cell deployments”

“Small Cell Ecosystem: Challenges and Opportunities” – a global status report runs over 50 pages providing answers from the perspective of leading operators on fundamental questions to small cell deployments such as:

  • Are the operators ready for small cell deployments which require radical change of current operational processes?
  • How close are we to realizing large scale small cell deployments?
  • What operators see as their primary small cell backhaul technology and how they rank the different solutions?
  • Which vendors are operators considering for each type of backhaul technology?
  • Will operators deploy small cells in the same spectrum used for macro cells, or in a separate dedicated spectrum band?
  • What are the key issues that are holding up small cell deployments and what are the potential avenues available to resolving these challenges and jump start the small cell market?


For more information or report inquiry please contact Elias Aravantinos

About ExelixisNet

ExelixisNet is a global intelligence, information technology research and advisory company. We deliver the technology-related insight necessary for our clients to make the right decisions, every day. We are the valuable partner since 2007 of senior IT leaders in corporations and government agencies, in high-tech and telecom enterprises and professional services firms, to technology investors, that trust our opinion. Our team of experts works with every client to research, analyze and interpret the business of IT within the context of their individual role. Founded in 2007 in New York, USA, ExelixisNet is headquartered today in Athens, Greece covering clients in North America, Middle East and Europe.

About Xona Partners

Xona Partners is a boutique advisory services firm specialized in telecom, media and technology. Founded by a team of renowned technologists and startup founders, managing directors in global ventures, and investment advisors, Xona draws on its founders cross-functional expertise to offer a unique multi-disciplinary integrative technology and investment advisory service to private equity, venture funds, and technology companies that includes pre-investment due-diligence, post-investment full-lifecycle management and new-revenue generation. Xona operates from four regional hubs in San Francisco, Singapore, Dubai and Paris.


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