The small cells market saw 2.3 million units shipped last year, up 39 percent thanks to a boom of deployments in India.
New research from IHS Markit revealed the technology had sales of $1.8 billion, up 20 percent on 2016, with the bulk of small cells installed in rural and remote areas.
Researchers said China is no longer in the driving seat of market dominance thanks to the rise of India, specifically projects by Reliance Jio.
The report noted existing small cells were also bolstered by 4x4 MIMO and 256QAM upgrades.
Richard Webb, Associate Director, Mobile backhaul and Small Cells Research at IHS Markit, said: “We continue to see increasing small cell activity, with impact being made by enterprise small cell services offered by MNOs to attract high-value corporate and vertical customers.
“This enterprise segment is strongly fueling indoor small cells unit shipments, which are far greater than outdoor small cell rollouts.”
Asia-Pacific now accounts for 56 percent of the market, with the rest of the market carved up between Canada, Japan and the United States. There was no mention of Europe, traditionally an area where the technology has failed to have the same impact.
The report said that the larger the small cell, the larger the revenue, hence suburban, rural and remote deployments owning the biggest share of sales.
By 2022, sales will hit $2.8 billion, with a compound annual growth rate of 9.6 percent during the next five years.
Stéphane Téral, Executive Director, Mobile Infrastructure and Carrier Economics Research at IHS Markit, added: “The volume of indoor units will continue to increase above that of outdoor out to 2022.
“However, outdoor revenue will be higher because outdoor small cells are significantly more expensive with new 4G features such as higher-order MIMO and 256QAM.”