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Optimizing Networks: Global Markets for Small Cells and Carrier Wi-Fi

  • March 2014
  • -
  • BCC Research
  • -
  • 121 pages


Table of Contents


The global market for small cell and carrier-Wi-Fi devices was valued at about $2.7 billion in 2012 and nearly $3.4 billion in 2013. It is expected to reach $4.2 billion in 2014 and $9.1 billion by 2019, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.6% for the five-year period, 2014 to 2019.

This report provides:

An overview of the global market for small cell and carrier-Wi-Fi devices.
Analyses of global market trends, with data from 2012 and 2013, estimates for 2014, and projections of CAGRs through 2019.
Markets for these devices broken down by individual country, including the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Germany, France, Italy, the U.K., Spain, Turkey, Israel, China, Japan, India and many others.
Information on the nature of these devices in end-use applications, specifically: factories, residences, offices, public spaces, and under-serviced regions.


“Small cell” is an umbrella term used to cover all base stations other than conventional macrocell base transceiving stations (BTSes). The constituent devices covered by the phrase “small cells” have lower operating power than macrocells, and consequently they cater to a smaller coverage area.BCC Research includes the following devices under the small-cell umbrella:

In their order of appearance, these devices exhibit progressively higher operating power, coverage area and the ability to handle concurrent calls.“Carrier Wi-Fi” is a term used to describe Wi-Fi devices that are Passpoint certified. The certification is the endorsement of the ability of the Wi-Fi device to be integrated into the cellular network for purposes of seamless handover and subscriber authentication at the very minimum.Cellular mobile communications is now in its fourth generation. The purpose of the first to the fourth generation is characterized by defining the change in how customers use cellular mobile phones. These devices have now metamorphosed from simple communication tools to fully fledged lifestyle products.

This transformation has led to a race toward aligning the mobile device as closely as possible with the user profile. We now witness the efforts of the entire cellular stakeholder industry to achieve customization of its products and services. Such effort requires a huge amount of data transfer. Every generational change in cellular mobile telephony has been accompanied by a quantum leap in the data-transfer abilities. The fourth generation is no different. This attribute brings with it a different set of challenges. Every generational upgrade has translated into the cellular mobile telephony operating in higher-frequency bands. These bands are susceptible to attenuation at significantly lower ranges than their lower-frequency counterpart. Consequently, the network planners need to redouble effort in order to provide a seamless experience for users. Small cells were primarily designed to plug such gaps in the network. Introduction of higher-capacity waveforms has disclosed another important attribute of small cells. Small cells are now looked upon as tools that can facilitate targeted services to scattered, yet lucrative customers. This realization is prompting stakeholders such as equipment vendors and cellular operators to pay closer attention to small cells.

What also helps is that small-cell categories such as femtocells are practically plug-and-play devices requiring little operator attention.Carrier Wi-Fi enters this equation at an interesting juncture. The spectrum in licensed cellular bands remains a scarce resource. While small cells can provide focused attention to high-value users, they are inefficient as far as spectrum utilization is concerned. Cellular stakeholders have therefore turned their attention to Wi-Fi technology. Practically every smartphone is equipped with Wi-Fi connectivity. This makes it easier for cellular stakeholders to examine Wi-Fi from various angles. Initial trends toward Wi-Fi utilization were focused largely on creating Wi-Fi as an offloading mechanism for cellular network traffic. Such an arrangement, however, provided little visibility for a cellular operator into the subscribers’ usage pattern. The offloading mechanism also did not ensure seamless handovers. Carrier Wi-Fi addresses this concern. From the Wi-Fi stakeholders’ point of view, carrier Wi-Fi provides the key to the lucrative cellular-user market.This report provides a quantitative and qualitative look at the potential of small-cell and carrier-Wi-Fi devices over the next five years.

This study’s goals and objectives include the following:
To forecast the market size in terms of sales and shipments.
To break down the overall market by device categories such as femtocells, picocells, microcells and carrier-Wi-Fi devices.
To break down individual device markets by end applications, geographical regions and cellular waveform generations (applicable only for small cells).
To break down the market size of individual end applications by geographical regions.
To highlight the roles played by major stakeholders and players.
To provide an overview of the activities of influential companies.
To examine crucial, innovative breakthroughs by means of a detailed patent analysis.


The advent of long-term evolution (LTE) has prompted cellular stakeholders to look again at their network engineering practices as well as the revenue models. Small cells and carrier-Wi-Fi devices practically embody that change. Small cells are now no longer looked upon as mere plugs; they have now transformed into focused coverage facilitators. Carrier Wi-Fi provides an inexpensive spectrum for bandwidth-hungry third-generation (3G) and fourth-generation (4G) applications. This report provides a comparative analysis of individual small-cell-device technology and carrier-Wi-Fi technology. The study intends to compare and contrast the pushes and pulls experienced by individual devices in diverse end applications, geographical regions and cellular waveform generations (applicable only in the case of small cells).

The report examines the small-cell and carrier-Wi-Fi device technologies market under the following key parameters:

Individual devices.
End applications.
Cellular waveform generations.
Geographical regions.
Geographical regions within individual end applications.


This report presents the forecasts for small-cell and carrier-Wi-Fi devices for 2014 through 2019 on a volume and value basis.Sales values are presented in million U.S. dollars.Unit volumes are presented in thousand units.These forecasts are further broken down by devices, end applications, cellular waveform generations (only for small cells) and geographic regions.

The report covers the following devices:

Femtocells. Further broken down by end applications, geographical regions and cellular waveform generations.
Picocells. Further broken down by end applications, geographical regions and cellular waveform generations.
Microcells. Further broken down by end applications, geographical regions and cellular waveform generations.
Carrier-Wi-Fi devices. Further broken down by end applications and geographical regions.
Individual end applications are further broken down by geographical regions.Breakdown by end applications includes:
Other outdoor and indoor.
The regional breakdown focuses on:
The Americas.
Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).
Asia–Pacific (APAC).
Breakdown by cellular waveform generation includes:
Second generation (2G).
The Executive Summary chapter provides a snapshot of the small-cell and carrier-Wi-Fi-device market by breaking down the dollar sales of small cells and carrier-Wi-Fi devices, by device type.The Qualitative and Quantitative Overview of Small Cells and Carrier-Wi-Fi Devices chapter defines small cells and carrier Wi-Fi. It describes and analyzes individual device types. It explains the underlying cellular and Wi-Fi technologies at length. The chapter includes explanation of associated relevant technologies and terminologies. It finally provides a high-level overview of the small-cell and carrier-Wi-Fi market.

The Global Markets for Small Cells and Carrier-Wi-Fi Devices—a Detailed Breakdown chapter provides a detailed quantitative treatise of the small-cell and carrier-Wi-Fi-device market. It breaks down the market by end applications, geographical regions and cellular waveform generations. It also performs a deeper analysis on individual small-cell and carrier-Wi-Fi-device markets by breaking them down along end applications, geographical regions and cellular waveform technologies (not present for carrier-Wi-Fi devices). This chapter also breaks down individual end-application markets by geographical regions.The Stakeholder Category Analysis and Key Player Overview chapter provides a detailed analysis of the supply chain governing small cells and carrier-Wi-Fi devices. It identifies and explains major stakeholder categories. It also profiles and analyzes key players from each category.The U.S. Patent Analysis chapter covers innovations that impact small cells and carrier-Wi-Fi devices.INTENDED AUDIENCEThis report provides a multidimensional breakdown of the small-cell and carrier-Wi-Fi-device market. It will be of value to the following industry players:
Femtocell original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
Picocell OEMs.
Microcell OEMs.
Passpoint-certified Wi-Fi access point OEMs.
Wi-Fi industry associations.
Cellular industry associations.
Semiconductor device makers.
Cellular operators.
Hotspot service providers.
Testing and diagnostic equipment vendors.
Backhaul equipment vendors.
Antenna vendors.
Intellectual-property owners.
Telecommunications software and firmware vendors.
Integrated telecommunication infrastructure device makers.
Handset OEMs.

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