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Outdoor Small Cell Backhaul a 5-Year $5-Billion Opportunity, Says New Infonetics Report

Market research firm Infonetics Research today released excerpts from its new Outdoor Small Cell Mobile Backhaul Equipment Market Outlook. The report forecasts the fastest growing segment of the small cell backhaul market -- outdoor small cell backhaul -- in 8 discrete categories: the 3 forms of wireline (copper, fiber, DSL) and the 5 forms of wireless (licensed and unlicensed millimeter wave and point-to-point, point-to-multi-point, and non-line-of-sight, or NLOS, microwave). The report tracks and forecasts outdoor small cell backhaul equipment revenue, units, connections (aka links) and small cell sites by medium (copper, fiber, air).

Co-author of Infonetics' new small cell backhaul report, Michael Howard, Co-founder and Principal An ...

Co-author of Infonetics' new small cell backhaul report, Michael Howard, Co-founder and Principal Analyst for Carrier Networks at Infonetics Research (Photo: Business Wire)


“There’s been wild speculation on the small cell opportunity -- some that lump together small cells with residential femtocells, WiFi hotspots, and in-building and outdoor. Our latest research focuses on just the new, faster-growing outdoor small cell backhaul equipment market,” says Michael Howard, Infonetics Research’s co-founder and principal analyst for carrier networks.

“After fielding several small cell operator surveys and working directly with chipset manufacturers, mobile operators, small cell vendors, and backhaul equipment vendors for more than 2 years,” Howard continues, “we are now able to reliably calculate the size of the market and build realistic forecasts. We expect a cumulative $5 billion to be spent worldwide on outdoor small cell backhaul equipment between 2012 and 2016, with the market kicking into high gear in 2014. This is in addition to the nearly $44 billion being spent on macrocell backhaul equipment during the same 5-year period.”

Richard Webb, directing analyst for microwave and mobile offload at Infonetics and co-author of the report adds, “We expect to see significant shifts in the type of equipment vendors use to backhaul outdoor small cells, with millimeter wave and non-line-of-sight, or NLOS, equipment becoming the top segments of the market by 2016. Millimeter wave equipment has a high capacity (1Gbps in a single channel) and very low latency, and nearly all of the operators we’ve interviewed are evaluating millimeter wave for small cell backhaul.”


  • There is no silver bullet backhaul solution for all small cell deployment scenarios, as each depends on multiple variables, including location, form factor limitations, local regulations, available power and network, and cost
  • As a result, mobile operators and backhaul transport providers need a diverse tool kit of solutions for small cell backhaul; Infonetics expects all the outdoor small cell backhaul technologies it tracks to grow at high double- to triple-digit percentage CAGRs through at least 2016
  • The number of outdoor small cell backhaul connections is forecast by Infonetics to grow more than 100-fold from 2012 to 2016
  • Wireless microwave equipment, including various types of microwave and millimeter wave, accounts for 89% of all outdoor small cell backhaul equipment revenue in 2012, while copper, fiber, and DSL wireline products account for 11%
  • Infonetics reported in its related Macrocell Mobile Backhaul Equipment and Services report that macrocell mobile backhaul spending will grow to $9.7 billion in 2016 (report excerpts:


Infonetics’ Outdoor Small Cell Mobile Backhaul Equipment Market Outlook tracks backhaul for mobile operator small cells located outdoors, such as those attached to light poles, utility poles, and the sides and tops of buildings. The report does not cover in-building small cells or home femtocells. The report provides regional and global market size, forecasts, analysis and trends for outdoor small cell backhaul equipment, connections, and cell sites. Equipment and connections are tracked and forecast by type: Ethernet over copper, Ethernet over fiber, DSL, NLOS microwave, standard line-of-sight (LOS) point-to-point microwave, standard LOS point-to-multipoint microwave, unlicensed millimeter wave and licensed millimeter wave.

The report tracks equipment made by Actelis, Adtran, Alcatel-Lucent, Aviat, BlinQ Networks, BluWan, BridgeWave, Calix, Cambridge Broadband, Celtro, Ceragon, Ciena, Cisco, E-Band, ECI Telecom, Ericsson, Fastback, Fujitsu, Huawei, Juniper, MRV, NEC, Nokia Siemens Networks, Overture, Positron-Aktino, RAD Data, Radwin, Samsung, Siklu, Sub10 Systems, Taqua, Tarana, ZTE and others.

Download Infonetics’ outdoor small cell backhaul report table of contents, companies and products tracked and more from the Mobile Backhaul and Microwave section of Infonetics’ online service portal at To buy the report, contact Infonetics:



Download Infonetics report highlights, tables of contents, prospectuses, market research brochure, events brochure and more at


N. America (West), Asia, Latin America: Larry Howard, [email protected], +1 408-583-3335

N. America (East), Texas, Midwest: Scott Coyne, [email protected], +1 408-583-3395

Europe, Middle East, Africa: George Stojsavljevic, [email protected], +44 755-488-1623

Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan:


Infonetics Research ( is an international market research and consulting firm serving the communications industry since 1990. A leader in defining and tracking emerging and established technologies in all world regions, Infonetics helps clients plan, strategize, and compete effectively. View Infonetics’ About Us slides at

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