Cost comparison: Small cells vs. Carrier Wi-Fi, DAS, repeaters

The technologies will be competing with each other, but will also be combined, speculates the analyst firm Mobile Experts.

Technology analyst firm Mobile Experts recently completed a drill-down study of the small cell market examining the role of small cells with respect to macro base stations, Carrier Wi-Fi and "coverage products" such as DAS systems, repeaters and relays.

"A tectonic shift in the mobile infrastructure market is taking place," writes Mobile Experts' Joe Madden in a recent white paper summarizing the firm's findings. "Mobile operators are increasingly choosing to invest capital in smaller base station solutions, Carrier Wi-Fi, and indoor coverage solutions instead of erecting new towers."

See: Analyst calls Carrier Wi-Fi market 'red hot'

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Based on expected growth in data consumption and changes in both LTE and unlicensed infrastructure, Mobile Experts anticipates a gap in mobile operators' ability to handle data demand. "Macro networks will only be able to handle about half of mobile data by 2017," contends Madden.

Significantly, he adds, "The other half will be picked up by interesting combinations of Wi-Fi systems, DAS networks and small cells. These solutions will be competing with each other, but will also be combined to to satisfy the demand of a near-infinite variety of applications."

View/Download the white paper here.

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