According to a new survey conducted by financial analytics firm IHS Markit, 90 percent of wireless carriers already have successfully rolled out small cells, mainly in the form of outdoor installations in urban areas and also femtocell installations inside the homes of mobile users. As for the remaining 10 percent -- they have expressed plans to deploy small cells before the start of 2018.
As pointed out by IHS Markit, a critical selling point in promoting small cell technology is security, and the results of its latest survey certainly indicates that. About 90 percent of all respondents all mentioned security as a key offering. Half a decade ago, security was at the bottom of the respondents’ priorities, but last year, it jumped to second place, and finally became the top rated feature this year. Of course, there is a reason for this. The last few years have seen an increased number of cases of network hacking and security breaches. To be clear about it, small cells are generally considered easier to hack compared to macro sites, especially those not easily accessible by the public.
Recent enhancements in the way small cells are installed in public places have allowed the technology to be embedded into furniture, even in areas as common as bus stops (most notably in England and the Netherlands). As indicated in the results of IHS Markit’s recent survey, the top small cell manufacturers include Nokia, Ericsson, Huawei, and SpiderCloud. Despite the increasing threat from Chinese mobile upstarts, Finland’s Nokia remains as the manufacturer with the biggest installed base, so far.
More and more mobile operators are appreciating how small cell tech can serve as a low cost means for minimizing customer turnover rates while at the same time optimizing revenues. Although most wireless carriers of today are connecting small cells to the closest base stations, the use of gateways is getting more popular. Furthermore, most of small cell tech is being rolled out in spectrum from 1.5 GigaHertz to 2.2 GigaHertz, the range wherein 3G and Long Term Evolution also operate.
It is always hard for any form of technology to live up to its hype, and small cell tech has its share of obstacles over the years. But most industry watchers agree that the technology went under arrested development not because of the tech itself, but due to problems related to permits and a lack of standard for rolling out the tech. As soon as these things get taken care of, there might be no stopping small cell tech from finally taking off.
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