Global small cell shipments surged 39% in 2017 to 2.3 million units, with revenue from the segment growing 20% to $1.8 billion, according to IHS Markit.
Activity in China also helped stimulate the market, but to a lesser extent than previous years. In total APeJ deployments accounted for 56% of unit shipments in 2017, with most of the remaining growth coming from Canada, Japan and the US.
Suburban, rural and remote small cells meanwhile generated the highest share of small cell revenue, with the indoor market rapidly approaching commoditization.
The market also benefited from 4x4 multiple input multiple output (MIMO) and 256 quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) upgrades for existing small cells.
“We continue to see increasing small cell activity, with impact being made by enterprise small cell services offered by mobile network operators to attract high-value corporate and vertical customers,” IHS Markit associate director for mobile backhaul and small cells research Richard Webb said.
“This enterprise segment is strongly fueling indoor small cells unit shipments, which are far greater than outdoor small cell rollouts.”
Looking ahead, IHS Markit projects that the small cell market will reach $2.8 billion in 2022, representing a CAGR of 9.6% over the next five years. The trend of indoor unit shipments outpacing outdoor deployments is expected to continue over this time, but outdoor revenue will remain higher due to the higher unit prices.