Small CellThe global market for small cell backhaul equipment will expand at a 48% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) out to 2018, growing from an expected $487 million this year to over $5 billion, according to a new report from ABI Research.

Sub 6 GHz technology will come to dominate when it comes to small cell backhaul equipment revenue, accounting for 47%, or $2.4 billion, of 2018’s worldwide total and 31% of last-mile links, according to findings based on ABI’s “Mobile Backhaul” and “Small Cells and Carrier Wi-Fi” market research services.

Millimeter wave technology will be the fastest growing category of small cell wireless backhaul equipment over the forecast period, growing at a 113% CAGR to reach $668 million. Traditional microwave equipment will continue to grow as well, accounting for 34% of global market revenue (nearly $1.8 billion) and a 25% share of backhaul links in 2018, ABI analysts predict.

“Thanks to its NLOS (Non Line of Sight) properties, sub 6GHz backhaul becomes the most popular backhaul technology for small cells by 2018,” Nick Marshall, ABI principal analyst, was quoted in a press release. ABI Research believes that the millimeter wave bands from 60GHz to 80GHz will also prove compelling for small cell backhaul in many situations.

“We believe that 4G/LTE small cell solutions will again drive most of the microwave and fiber backhaul growth in metropolitan, urban, and suburban areas with backhaul for 4G/LTE small cells reaching a value of $3.1 billion in 2018, growing at 2X the rate for 3G and surpassing 3G in 2016,” Marshall added.

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