Small CellThe global market for outdoor “small cells”– femtocells, picocells, microcells and carrier Wi-Fi access points– will be worth $14.3 billion by 2017, according to a new ABI report. For 2012, sales of outdoor small cells will surpass 1 million units, exceeding a forecast 954,000 units of macrocell sales, ABI forecasts.

“We believe that outdoor small cells have distinctly different characteristics, including the need for carrier grade software, wider temperature ranges, and more sophisticated RF from indoor consumer and enterprise femtocells and we are now forecasting these separately from indoor residential and enterprise units,” explained Nick Marshall, principal analyst at ABI Research.

Sales of outdoor small cells will grow at a 53.8% constant annual growth rate (CAGR) by 2017, with 9.3 million units sold. Outdoor femtocells will be the fastest growing class of small cells, growing at an 81.5% CAGR and reaching 1.5 million units worth $5.4 billion come 2017, according to ABI’s “Small Cells and Carrier Wi-Fi” report.

Rapid growth is also forecast for the emerging carrier integrated Wi-Fi class of small cells, which ABI says will grow at a 60% CAGR to reach 6.8 million units worth $1.7 billion.

“We forecast that the femtocell and carrier Wi-Fi small cell classes will make up 50% of the revenue and 89% of the units in 2017. The remaining 50% of the revenue and 11% of the units in 2017 are represented by the more expensive pico- and microcell classes,” Marshall added.

Backhaul costs for small cells account for around twice as much of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) as they do in the macro cell network layer, indicating that without high-capacity, ultra-compact, low-cost backhaul, the small cell market will struggle to grow,” according to a recent report from Senza Fili.

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