The global market for Mobile Radio Access Network (RAN) LTE equipment is set to grow at an explosive 50% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next five years, according to a forecast from Dell’Oro Group. Mobile broadband growth will eventually be enough to offset declining investment in CDMA, GSM and WiMAX, Dell’Oro says.

“The success with early adopters in North America, Japan, and South Korea is driving operators around the world to commit to LTE and reap the benefits of improved efficiencies, latencies, throughputs, and to ensure a future-proof roadmap,” Dell’Oro analyst Stefan Pongratz elaborated. “It has been only 18 months since the first large scale commercial deployment of LTE and it is already generating more than 15 percent of total RAN revenues.”

Overall the Mobile RAN market, macro and public access small cells, is forecast to grow at a 2% CAGR between 2011 and 2016, according to Dell’Oro. Growth in the public access small cell market is expected to accelerate in the later years of the forecast period, accounting for 9% of total RAN revenues in 2016.

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Sprint and Alcatel-Lucent this week announced an agreement to deploy the latter’s lightRadio Metro Cells (mini-base stations) to augment cell coverage in high-traffic areas. Sprint will initially focus on deploying them indoors, including in entertainment venues, transportation hubs and business campuses.

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