A new report from analyst and market-research firm NPD In-Stat, entitled Femtocells and Small Cells: Making the Most of Megahertz, looks at the small-cell technologies that serve a variety of coverage scenarios. The organization uses the term "RAN," or radio access network, to identify the systems that support mobile data use. When announcing the report's availability, NPD In-Stat explained, "Mobile data usage is increasing by a factor of 70-100 percent annually. To meet this demand, cellular infrastructures have to fundamentally change as networks must deal with coverage, cell density and resistance to new macro cell base station deployments ('not in my backyard'). Increasingly, small cell deployments are being used to enhance coverage. Femtocells will be used in residences and enterprises alike, and picocells will be used to provide wireless coverage indoors and outdoors with microcells employed to cover areas where macrocells would be overkill." The report puts the total retail value of small-cell shipments at $14 billion in 2015.
Among the other data points NPD In-Stat made public is that in 2011, the value of voice and data services hosted by small cell devices was $3.2 billion globally
Chris Kissel, senior analyst, stated, "The potential that true mobile broadband offers in personal communications, commerce and social networking becomes a curse for mobile operators. Use case determines the form factor. Studies indicate that 75 percent of mobile broadband connections are made indoors. This means that mobile operators have to ensure QoS for subscribers in their homes, at their jobs, and at their leisure. Radio access network [RAN] devices have to show versatility. If thought of as small cells, RAN devices can provide access to as few as four users or as many as a thousand."