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Small Cell is the Buzz but DAS is the Biz, Say Operators in Latest Infonetics Survey

Technology market research firm Infonetics Research released excerpts from its just-published Small Cell Coverage Strategies: Global Service Provider Survey, for which Infonetics interviewed wireless, incumbent, and competitive operators around the world about their small cell buildout plans.


“To the small cell vendors of the world, we know what you want to hear, but what you need to hear is that the small cell market simply isn’t going to explode as many are predicting,” cautions Stéphane Téral, principal analyst for mobile infrastructure and carrier economics at Infonetics Research.

“The reality is,” Téral continues, “a majority of operators are still using distributed antennas (DAS) in their mobile networks for coverage, and despite all the talk about using small cells to boost capacity in large venues, operators we interviewed believe DAS will remain a fundamental tool for malls, airports, stadiums and the like. Yes, small cells are poised to play a major role in 3G and 4G network expansion, but operators are going to pick the right tool for their needs, be it coverage, capacity or both; indoor, outdoor or both; and small cells aren’t always the right solution. The bottom line is, small cells -- I’m not talking about residential femtocells here -- remain a tiny market compared to macrocells, and will take time to reach meaningful penetration.”


  • 73% of the operators Infonetics interviewed have already deployed small cells, mainly in homes and enterprises, indicating solid experience with femtocells
  • Of those that have deployed small cells, 3/4 have done so using the 1.5GHz–2.2GHz spectrum, the most common band across all geographic regions
  • 80% of respondent operators currently use DAS in their cellular networks for coverage optimization
  • Like last year, the top drivers for deploying small cells are optimizing in-building coverage and high data usage areas, and non-expandability of the macro network
  • Survey respondents rate interference with the macro network as the #1 barrier to deploying small cells, although falling 14 percentage points from last year’s survey
  • The highest-rated feature for public access small cells among operators interviewed is self-organizing network (SON) capabilities


For its 27-page small cell coverage strategies survey, Infonetics interviewed independent wireless, incumbent, and competitive operators from Europe, North America, Asia and Latin America about their small cell buildout plans. The study provides insights into small cell deployment plans and drivers, technical challenges, implementation barriers, deployment locations, spectrum ranges, and DAS usage. To buy the survey, contact Infonetics:



Download Infonetics’ research brochure, publication calendar, report highlights, tables of contents, prospectuses and more at


N. America (West), Asia, Latin America: Larry Howard,, +1 408-583-3335

N. America (East), Texas, Midwest: Scott Coyne,, +1 408-583-3395

Europe, Middle East, Africa: George Stojsavljevic,, +44 755-488-1623

Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan:


Infonetics Research ( is an international market research and consulting firm serving the communications industry since 1990. A leader in defining and tracking emerging and established technologies in all world regions, Infonetics helps clients plan, strategize, and compete effectively. View Infonetics’ About Us slides at

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