With the global industries focusing on digitalisation with the growth of 5G, an IDTech Ex report released on Monday, says the vision will not be realised without small cell development. IDTechEx released “5G Small Cells 2021-2031: Technologies, Markets, Forecast”, a market research and business intelligence report exploring the technical and industry factors shaping the small cell market. IDTechEx forecasts that the overall number of 5G small cells will reach 45 million by 2031.
Small cells play a key role in 5G
According to the report, with two new frequency bands, sub-6 GHz (3-7 GHz) and mmWave (24-48 GHz), included in 5G, 5G provides much larger bandwidth, lower latency, higher reliability, and many more connections in comparison with previous generations of mobile networks. The benefit of 5G not only accelerates the growth of mobile consumer networks but also has huge potential to revolutionise industries such as automotive, entertainment, computing, and manufacturing.
The report points to series of challenges – One of the main challenges is the signal attenuation of high-frequency signals. This means that the signal propagation is much shorter compared to the previous cellular networks such as 3G and 4G. Small cells are proposed to address this. Creating an ultra-dense network by deploying more small cells plays a key role in 5G as it allows it to complement the macro network and therefore boosts data capacity, the report stated.
Small cells can be categorised into three types – femtocells, picocells, and microcells, depending on their output power. Because of their smaller size compared to macro base stations, the material choices and the overall technology trend will be different from their macro infrastructure counterparts.
As of mid-2021, the majority of the 5G commercial rollouts are still focused on enhanced mobile broadband – installing 5G macro base stations to provide networks with high capacity for consumers using mobile devices. However, the new use cases such as industrial IoT 4.0, cellular vehicle to everything (C-V2X), new entertainment experiences, and smart cities, are where the real innovations are occurring and the huge market potential lies.
5G small cells market analysis: The big market potential waiting in front of us
The analysis considers how the following variables evolve during the forecast period: the development and adoption rate of sub-6 GHz and mmWave in the 5 regions, the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) for broadband and critical applications, 5G rollout potentials for enterprises, urban, and rural & remote purposes, and the utilisation rate of different types of small cells for each scenario.
IDTechEx said the report includes a comprehensive analysis of the supply chain across 5G small cells, which incorporates a detailed assessment of technology innovations and market dynamics.