Our SCF market forecast brings you the industry’s most comprehensive analysis of small cell deployments globally from now until 2027.
The most important input to the forecast is a major survey of deployers of small cells, including 69 mobile network operators (MNOs), and 32 other service providers such as private network operators (PNOs) and neutral hosts.
Some key findings from the 2022 report include:
- The report forecasts compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for small cells of 15% for the whole global market, which will result in cumulative deployments of almost 36 million radios by 2027.
- By the end of 2024, the most common architecture for indoor enterprise locations will be a two-unit, one-split network based on Split 6, with a dominant 46% of deployers choosing this option for at least some of their planned rollouts. The next most common choice will be to stick to integrated small cells (18% of deployers) followed by the O-RAN Alliance’s one-split, Split 7.
- The report forecasts the rising prevalence of enterprise small cells deployed and operated together with edge compute and/or packet core. Those deployed with both these functions will grow at a CAGR of 50% in 2020-27 to account for 25% of the total at the end of that period, while 27% of radio units will be run by a private core separate from any edge.
- Manufacturing, utilities and energy, retail and transportation industries will be the biggest deployers of small cells in the period 2020-27, reflecting the large numbers of units they will need to support very large premises or infrastructure networks.
- By 2027, the number of units deployed and run by neutral hosts will match the number deployed and run by private network operators (PNOs), at about one-third each. From 2023-27, PNOs will be the largest category of small cell operator, overtaking MNOs’ public networks from 2023.