mmWave, sub 6GHz driving small cell backhaul market to $4bn

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Demand for 4G small cell solutions in urban areas will drive the sector's backhaul market to reach $4 billion (€3.7 billion) by 2020, new research has claimed. 

New findings from ABI Research said the demand for LTE solutions to connect densely-populated areas will result in microwave, millimetre wave and sub-6GHz backhaul technologies overtaking 3G solutions in 2015.

Millimetre wave was forecast to be the fastest-growing technology due to its high bandwidth, which makes it ideal for urban areas. Meanwhile, ABI said that sub-6GHz backhaul is set to capture the largest share of the market for connecting “last mile” links, claiming it will outperform the total market by the end of the decade.

ABI predicted traditional microwave equipment will remain a top technology for small cell backhaul applications and claim a “leading share” of revenue, alongside a quarter of small cell links, in 2020. Alcatel-Lucent, NEC and Ericsson were amongst the vendors identified as standing to benefit from the growth in small cell backhaul equipment.

Nick Marshall, Research Director at ABI, said: “We believe that 4G/LTE small cell solutions will again drive most of the microwave, millimetre wave, and sub-6GHz backhaul growth in metropolitan, urban, and suburban areas with backhaul for 4G/LTE small cells growing at double-digit rates and surpassing 3G in this year.”

Marshall added North America, Europe and Asia-Pac would outperform the total market and see double-digit growth rates between now and 2020.

Last month, a report from the Small Cells Forum revealed that over 10 million small cells have now been deployed across the globe, with more than 75 operators using the technology.

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