Small Cells, DAS & Het-Nets

U.S. Outdoor Small Cells: A Five Year TCO

This report presents a total cost of ownership model for 4G LTE outdoor small cell deployments in the U.S. using leased dark fiber and attaching to existing poles. It estimates both capital and operational costs. The model presents an "average" view of the national U.S. market but could be refined to estimate smaller markets.

The way iGR built the model reflects iGR’s findings and resultant opinion on the drivers of small cell costs. Namely, the technology itself does not drive up the cost of deployment and operation.

Small cell costs are in fact driven up by two key variables that are largely external to what the operator can itself control:

  • Dark fiber lease costs: At a high level, this is the cost of moving data back and forth to the small cells and, ultimately, end user devices. Left alone, iGR believes that over time these prices will decrease.
  • Access to sites: This is the cost of leasing space on existing poles, many of which are owned/controlled by local governments. Many of these poles are exactly where operators want to install small cells. Just as location is everything in real estate, so too is it everything in cellular. Local governments want to generate as much revenue from their “street furniture” as possible while operators, state governments and the federal government are trying to ensure that those per-pole attachment costs are low. Not all poles are owned by local governments or utilities, but a lot of them are.

The model presents four different iterations of costs for both dark fiber and attachment rates: low, medium, high and extreme. Increasing costs are assigned to each of those categories in order to estimate how greatly deployment and operational costs might vary. The model includes other cost estimates, as well, and the assumptions section of the report details what those are – technology costs, labor, permits, power, etc.

Key Questions Answered

  • What is an outdoor small cell? What are metrocells, RRHs and oDAS?
  • What are the issues with deploying outdoor small cells in the U.S.? How do these issues impact the number of small cells in the market?
  • What are the differences between oDAS, metrocells and remote radio heads?
  • Where are outdoor small cells most likely to be located? What’s their role?
  • How important is location to the effectiveness of an outdoor small cell?
  • What are the main drivers of outdoor small cell deployment costs?
  • Do these cost drivers vary by region?
  • How much does it cost to deploy outdoor small cells?

Who Should Read

  • Mobile operators
  • Infrastructure OEMs
  • Small cell product and solution vendors
  • Backhaul service providers and equipment OEMs
  • Financial analysts and investors.

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Executive Summary
  • Methodology
  • Basic Mobile Operator Network Architecture
    • Wireless Spectrum
    • Cell Sites
    • The Different Types of Haul
  • Setting the Stage for Small Cells
    • Network “Pain Points”
    • Different Types of Small Cells
  • Outdoor Small Cell Deployment Issues
    • Small Cell deployment requirements
    • Small Cell Installations
    • Locations for Small Cells
    • Small Cell Deployment Issues
  • 5G Defined
    • 4G to 5G small cell transition
    • 5G Services and Use Cases
  • General Trends / Assumptions around Outdoor Small Cells
    • Market drivers
    • Market inhibitors
  • Regulatory Overview
    • Federal Involvement
    • The SPEED Act of 2017
    • Costs of Permits
    • Summary
  • Outdoor Small Cells TCO: Assumptions
    • Assumptions
    • The Bigger Picture
  • Summary
  • Small Cell Vendor Profiles
    • Accelleran
    • Airspan Networks
    • CellXica
    • Comba Telecom
    • CommScope
    • Druid Software
    • Ericsson
    • Gemtek
    • Huawei
    • ip.access
    • JMA Wireless
    • Juni
    • Kathrein
    • Microlab (Wireless Telecom Group)
    • NEC
    • NextNav
    • Nokia Networks
    • Oracle
    • Quortus
    • Samsung Electronics
    • Sercomm
    • SpiderCloud Wireless (Corning Optical Communications)
    • TeleWorld Solutions
    • ZTE Corporation
  • Definitions
  • About iGR
    • Disclaimer

List of Tables

  • Table 1: Different Types of Small Cells, Licensed and Unlicensed Spectrum
  • Table 2: Costs per Site per Year, 50 Small Cell Deployment
  • Table 3: Range of Build Costs per Small Cell Site
  • Table 4: Range of Operational Costs per Small Cell Site
  • Table 5: 4G LTE Outdoor Small Cells Forecast, 2018-2022
  • Table 6: Range of Potential Outdoor Small Cell Build Costs, 2018-2022
  • Table 7: Range of Potential Outdoor Small Cell Operating Costs, 2018-2022
  • Definitions Table

List of Charts and Figures

  • Figure A: Five-Year TCO for Deploying and Operating 4G LTE Outdoor Small Cells
  • Figure 1: Basic Components of Cellular Voice/Data Network
  • Figure 2: Cell Site Backhaul Capabilities and Use Cases, Wired and Wireless
  • Figure 3: Basic DAS Configuration
  • Figure 4: DAS, BTS Hotels, and Remote Radio Heads
  • Figure 5: 3GPP Approaches to Network Sharing
  • Figure 6: Possible Interference Sources in a Loaded Network
  • Figure 7: Costs per Site per Year, 50 Small Cell Deployment
  • Figure 8: Range of Build Costs per Small Cell Site
  • Figure 9: Range of Operational Costs per Small Cell Site
  • Figure 10: 4G LTE Outdoor Small Cells, 2018-2022
  • Figure 11: Range of Potential Outdoor Small Cell Build Costs, 2018-2022
  • Figure 12: Range of Potential Operating Costs, 2018-2022

For additional information on the U.S. Outdoor Small Cells: A Five Year TCO market study, please contact Iain Gillott, at (512) 263-5682 or by email.