Small CellThe market for small, or low-power, outdoor cells is poised for a growth surge, according to Infonetics’ recently released “Small Cell Mobile Backhaul Equipment” report.

Though revenue in the “nascent market” for outdoor small cell mobile backhaul equipment totaled just $39 million worldwide in 2012, “we look for outdoor small cells to really kick into high gear beginning in 2014, and predict a cumulative $6 billion will be spent globally on outdoor small cell backhaul equipment between 2013 and 2017,” report co-author and Infonetics’ directing analyst for microwave and carrier Wi-Fi Richard Webb was quoted as saying.

Other key takeaways in the report include:

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  • The 2 main applications for outdoor small cell backhaul are adding capacity/extending coverage in high-traffic urban areas and adding coverage in rural areas
  • The nascent outdoor small cell mobile backhaul equipment revenue totaled $39 million worldwide in 2012
  •  Infonetics projects that outdoor small cell backhaul connections will grow from fewer than 7,000 in 2012 to more than 850,000 in 2017
  • Of the small cell backhaul technologies, unlicensed millimeter wave makes up the largest portion of revenue
  • North America currently leads the outdoor charge, with AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Clearwire and Comcast investigating, planning and conducting field trial deployments

In its related Macrocell Mobile Backhaul Equipment and Services report, Infonetics predicts that a cumulative $44 billion will be spent on macrocell mobile backhaul equipment between 2013 and 2017

“Outdoor small cells or, more accurately, low-power cells, are an exciting new expansion of mobile networking, but they come with challenging backhaul issues,” commented Infonetics’ principal analyst for carrier networks and co-founder Michael Howard. “As a result, deployments of outdoor small cells are modest right now, as mobile operators sort things out and test, trial and select technologies, products and vendors. But that’s about to change, and fast.”

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