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HetNet infrastructure a $15 Billion opportunity

latest report indicates that mobile operators will spend more than $15 Billion on small cells, carrier Wi-Fi, C-RAN (Centralized RAN) and DAS (Distributed Antenna System) networks, by the end of 2017.

Driven by the growing demand for in-building wireless coverage and the huge influx of mobile data traffic, conventional macrocells alone are no longer deemed sufficient to handle the needs of today’s wireless subscribers. In addition, the imminent adoption of centimeter and millimeter wave spectrum, to support higher data rates in 5G networks, necessitates the usage of much smaller cell sizes.

To cope with growing capacity and coverage requirements, mobile operators are significantly increasing their investments in a variety of Heterogeneous Network or HetNet infrastructure technologies such as strategically deployed small cells, carrier Wi-Fi and DAS networks. Adding further to the heterogeneity is the shift towards C-RAN (Centralized RAN) architecture, where centralized baseband functionality is shared across a large number of distributed radio nodes to deliver benefits such as resource pooling, multi-cell coordination, network extensibility and energy efficiency.

Research estimates that global spending on small cells, carrier Wi-Fi, C-RAN and DAS will reach more than $15 Billion by the end of 2017, as mobile operators remain committed to tackle the continued growth of mobile data traffic and evolving coverage requirements. At present, the HetNet market is facing a paradigm shift with multiple advancements ranging from small cell virtualization and neutral hosting to the adoption of unlicensed and shared spectrum. In conjunction with 5G and LTE Advanced network rollouts, these advancements will fuel the market to grow at a CAGR of over 18% between 2017 and 2020.

The “HetNet Ecosystem (Small Cells, Carrier Wi-Fi, C-RAN & DAS): 2017 – 2030 – Opportunities, Challenges, Strategies & Forecasts” report presents an in-depth assessment of the HetNet ecosystem including enabling technologies, key trends, market drivers, challenges, standardization, regulatory landscape, deployment models, use cases, vertical markets, service provider case studies, opportunities, future roadmap, value chain, ecosystem player profiles and strategies. The report also presents forecasts for HetNet infrastructure investments from 2017 till 2030. The forecasts cover 6 individual submarkets and 6 regions.

What’s HetNet?

Heterogeneous networks (HetNet) is a term used for modern mobile communications networks. A modern mobile communications network is comprised of a combination of different cell types and different access technologies.

A typical HetNet uses a combination of legacy systems (e.g. GSM en UMTS) and modern radio access technologies such as LTE, possibly completed with Wi-Fi. Macro cells are used to provide coverage. Pico cells and micro cells are used to enhance capacity in busy areas, such as train stations, shopping malls and city centers. Femto cells and Wi-Fi are used at the office and at home. Deployment of these small cell are a key feature of the HetNet approach as they allow considerable flexibility as to where they are positioned. Wi-fi can play a significant role in HetNets, both in terms of data offload and in terms of roaming, especially between an outdoor environment and an in-house environment.

Operators can potentially provide a more consistent customer experience compared to what could be achieved with a homogenous network, by integrating a variety of technologies and cell layers depending on the topology of the coverage area. A seamless transition between the different layers and different radio interfaces takes place, without requiring the user to do anything.

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Why Demand for HetNet Infrastructure will increase?

With the massive growth in data traffic, networks are expanding faster than ever before. Network complexity is increasing and service providers need to become more agile at network planning and rollout in order to keep up with changing network technologies.

Service providers are finding their current planning tools are inadequate to meet the demands of rolling out or upgrading their networks. Current planning tools can’t deal with the complexity or scale to meet the huge volumes of projects expected to be supported over the next few years.

Driven by in-building wireless coverage requirements and the growing influx of mobile data traffic, a conventional macrocell based cellular network deployment is not deemed to be a sufficient solution to address the coverage and capacity needs of today’s wireless subscribers.

Mobile operators are thus increasing their investments in Heterogeneous Network or HetNet infrastructure such as strategically deployed small cells, carrier Wi-Fi and DAS (Distributed Antenna Systems), to cope with growing capacity and coverage requirements. Adding further to the heterogeneity is the shift towards a C-RAN (Centralized RAN) architecture, which centralizes baseband functionality to be shared across a large number of distributed radio nodes. In comparison to standalone clusters of base stations, C-RAN provides significant performance and economic benefits such as baseband pooling, enhanced coordination between cells, virtualization, network extensibility and energy efficiency.

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