ABI Research is predicting that the enterprise small cell market will catch up with DAS (distributed antenna systems) by 2016. Today, the small cell market is roughly one-third of the DAS market.
However, ABI believes that the growing popularity of small cells as a coverage option for small to medium enterprises means they will be an equally popular option as DAS in four years time.
According to ABI Research, both DAS and enterprise small cell equipment will each reach the $2bn (£1.2bn) mark by 2016. Both markets are growing at a steady rate with DAS continuing to see deployments in large and medium sized public buildings, mostly above 150,000 square feet. However enterprise small cells will see most of their deployments in smaller buildings below 100,000 square feet.
Aditya Kaul, practice director, mobile networks at ABI Research says that, DAS vendors seem more aware about small cells now than they were a few years back. While most DAS vendors don’t really see small cells as a threat today, the smart ones are beginning to open up to small cells and realize that small cells are here to stay.
Kaul added: ‘While enterprise small cells are mostly going to sit separate from DAS in two non-overlapping building segments, the trend of public access small cells which are targeted at public spaces like airports, shopping malls, hotels, and even stadiums could see some revenue moving away from DAS. But most likely we will see an intersection of the two technologies where DAS is fed by small cells especially in medium sized buildings.’
As per ABI Researchs estimates, in 2017 DAS systems will largely be driven by traditional macro base stations, repeaters, and remote radio heads. But close to one-fourth of DAS systems will be fed with small cells as they are easier to install, smaller in size, and cheaper than other solutions.
The findings are part of a research report entitled, The Future of Active vs Passive DAS, Repeaters, and Threat from Small Cells.
DAS equipment vendor matrix
Corning MobileAccess has been ranked number one in the latest DAS (Distributed Antenna System) equipment vendor matrix released by ABI Research. This research is published as a part of a Competitive Assessment report on the in-building wireless coverage market, where DAS systems are the most widely deployed technology.
Commscope and TE Connectivity claim overall second and third spots in the vendor matrix, which evaluates companies on the two main axes of innovation and implementation. The top three companies on the innovation scale include Corning MobileAccess, Zinwave, and Alvarion, while the top three companies on implementation are Commscope, Corning MobileAccess, and TE Connectivity.
Aditya Kaul, practice director for mobile networks, said: ‘While traditional incumbents like Commscope and TE Connectivity still dominate the DAS market due to their size and footprint, it is emerging vendors like Corning MobileAccess who are grabbing market share on back of their technology innovation in areas like single cable MIMO support, DAS optimization, and their unique CAT5 based DAS solution for small enterprises.
Kaul continued: ‘The next generation of vendors like Zinwave, Alvarion, SOLiD Technologies, and Optiway are the ones to watch out for as they each bring unique DAS innovations that push the limits on cost, flexibility, and scalability, especially when it comes to supporting multiple technologies and multiple operators on fewer infrastructure elements.
‘The DAS market has seen major consolidation in the last few years, and as these fresh, small innovative vendors emerge onto the scene, it won’t be surprising if some of the large traditional base station vendors like Ericsson or Huawei make acquisitions, and establish a presence of DAS equipment in the indoor coverage market, which is a hotbed of activity right now,’ concluded Kaul.
Tower top RF electronics
In a separate report, Tower Top RF Electronics Research Service, ABI says that 50% the tower top RF electronics segment of the market is accounted for by Ericsson, NSN, Alcatel-Lucent, and Huawei Technologies.
Tower top RF electronics consist of active antennas, remote radio heads, and tower mounted amplifiers, which are all are important parts of modern macro base station hardware.
These three integral sub-assemblies will account for an increasing share of the base station market as LTE rolls out and distributed base stations become the norm, according to ABI. The large OEMs have powerful positions in producing this hardware, either directly or through wholly owned designs made by contract manufacturing partners.
Besides the big four of Ericsson, NSN, Alcatel-Lucent, and Huawei Technologies, ABI also highlighted as noteworthy of mention: Comba Telecom in the TMA segment, along with Andrew and AceAxis for RRH.