Report: 'Virtualized' small cells a $1b opportunity

Staff writer
24 May 2017

SNS Researchreported that global spending on virtualized small cells is expected to surpass $1 billion annually by 2020.

The research firm said vRAN refers to a RAN (radio access network) implementation where some or all baseband functions are separated from the remote radio unit and run as VNFs (Virtualized Network Functions) on commodity hardware.

This approach results in multiple operational benefits including but not limited to TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) reduction, performance gains and scalability. In addition, vRAN enables mobile operators to future-proof their networks for 5G upgrades, the research firm said.

At present, most vRAN investments are focused on virtualized small cells for targeted greenfield deployments, primarily in dense urban, enterprise and public venue environments.

SNS Research further said by virtualizing small cells, mobile operators can immediately evaluate the benefits of vRAN with no major impact on their larger macrocell RAN footprint. The market for virtualized small cells is expected to grow at a CAGR of approximately 130% over the next three year period. By the end of 2020, SNS Research estimates that virtualized small cell deployments will account for a market worth over $1 billion. More information on the report can be found at

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