ABI Research: 5G Small Cells Key to Handle Data Explosion
5G data traffic is exploding, and the only way to handle it all in the long term will be with small cell deployments, according to ABI Research.
The firm’s 5G Small Cells application analysis report said that 5G mobile data traffic will reach 1676 Exabytes in 2026, a compound annual growth rate of 63%.
Supporting all this traffic will be challenging, especially in light of the limited number of new macro sites and 5G spectrum that will be available. This will lead to a great increase in the best available solution, which is 5G small cells, researchers said. By 2027, 13 million small cells will be deployed outdoors, according to ABI. During 2028, 5G small cells deployed will overtake 4G small cells deployed.
5G Small Cells Research
The mobile sector is relying on Massive MIMO (mMIMO) macro cell deployment for the time being. However, it is a short-term solution. Mass 5G small cell deployments will occur around 2025. The release notes that enterprise networks already are deploying 5G small cells.
“5G small cells make use of the backhaul established for macro cells, so mobile network operators should start deploying 5G small cells at locations with backhaul already established,” Fei Liu, ABI’s 5G & Mobile Network Infrastructure Industry Analyst, said in a press release. “5G small cells can co-exist with macro cells, and self-organizing networks help minimize risks from interferences between cells. Alternatively, mobile network operators should deploy different frequency bands on small and macro cells.”
Among the challenges: 5G small cells must be smaller and lighter while simultaneously supporting transmission across wider swaths of spectrum, ABI said. There also is a greater range of deployment scenarios that vendors must support.
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