Monty Johnson, Ubiquisys GM Americas, this week took part in a panel session at the annual convention of the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) in Las Vegas. The panel discussed the rise of small cells to cover indoor public spaces and their effect on the traditional Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) market.
As the graph below from analysts Mobile Experts illustrates, the North American DAS market is substantial and will continue to be strong. But far from replacing DAS in its proven environments, indoor small cell growth is about responding to carriers’ more universal need to ramp indoor data capacity by reusing spectrum assets and splitting cells to ever-smaller sizes. Small cells are the ideal tool for this, because they offer markedly lower deployment costs and simple, commodity backhaul options.
Away from the panel, there was a lot of buzz at the event about how regional and rural carriers can capitalise on small cells. For example, NEC and ClearSky unveiled its Femtocells as a Service (FaaS) solution featuring Ubiquisys small cell technology. FaaS eliminates much of the upfront gateway and systems integration costs, resulting in a business case that starts to make sense at much lower volumes than traditional deployments. FaaS promises to make small cell technology, already so popular with consumers, commercially attractive for a new wave of regional carriers.