As much as 30 percent of the installed base of outdoor small cell networks and 71 percent of indoor enterprise systems in the next five years will be operated by new entrants to the cellular segment. This is the conclusion of a new market report by Small Cells Forum, which flags rising demand for wireless connectivity within connected enterprises, smart cities, and the Industry 4.0 arena.
The report, available here, focuses on digital-change programmes and deployment scenarios supported by new types of service provider partnerships, including neutral host arrangements, private network deployments, and systems integration. It notes traditional mobile network operators will have a key role to play in these partnerships, as well.
It has been published with the SCF’s new 2021 work programme, to promote commercial and technical initiatives to expand the small cell ecosystem, address deployment barriers, and evolve technologies to make mobile infrastructure secure and accessible to “organizations and communities of all sizes globally”.
Among new entrants handling private and shared mobile network operations in enterprises and cities, SCF highlighted incomers from the cloud, Wi-Fi, tower, and industrial space. It added: “There will also be increasing opportunities for innovative new players, such as neutral hosts, private network operators, city or enterprise specialists, who will favour flexible mobile infrastructure with end-to-end security offered by small cells.”
Prabhakar Chitrapu, chair of SCF, commented: “In what has been a tumultuous year for the global economy, we have to recognise opportunities to reinvent and reinvigorate. Digital transformation not only improves process efficiencies to reduce costs and environmental impact, but also drives the pace of change. SCF believes that cellular connectivity, increasingly delivered by small cells, is a critical accelerant for this transformation.”
Sue Monahan, chief executive at SCF, remarked: “Small cell networks are at a critical juncture, with rising demand for new cellular services and use cases, especially in enterprise and industrial sectors, which will deliver opportunities for many new deployment scenarios, with new services delivered by new providers.”
She added: “There are important emerging enablers of this growth, such as shared spectrum, open interfaces and automation, and all these key enablers are being actively developed and promoted by SCF work items. SCF’s work program for the year ahead will focus on lowering barriers, increasing confidence and enabling new use cases and business opportunities.”
The group’s 2021 work agenda puts focus on private networks and edge compute setups, neutral host requirements, planning and automation, and 5G products, components and networks.