“To the small-cell vendors of the world, we know what you want to hear,” says Stéphane Téral, principal analyst/Mobile Infrastructure and Carrier Economics at Infonetics Research. “But what you need to hear is that the small-cell market simply isn’t going to explode as many are predicting.” She continues, “The reality is, 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.” The bottom line, she adds, is that 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. Respondents to an Infonetics survey rated interference with the macro network as the Number One barrier to deploying small cells. The highest-rated feature for public-access small cells among operators interviewed is self-organizing network (SON) capabilities.

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