Wireless & Mobile Landscape

U.S. Macrocell Antenna Forecast, 2015 - 2020: Spectrum Drives Upgrades and More Sectors

This market study presents iGR’s forecast for the number of antennas on macrocells/macrosites in the U.S. from 2015 through 2020. It does not include DAS, small cells or any other type of indoor or outdoor cellular sites. It also does not include estimates around antennas for 600 MHz spectrum or future 5G IMT-2020 networks.

Typically, base station antennas are contained within a weather-proof enclosure (casing/radome). If an operator has deployed an enclosure with three frequency bands for one sector, that would be a minimum of six antennas (three transmit and three receive). Installations like this are more accurately called “antenna arrays” since each enclosure can contain multiple antennas spanning multiple bands.

iGR expects the total number of installed antennas in the U.S. to grow significantly in the next five years as mobile operators deploy LTE in new spectrum (such as AWS-3), refarm 2G and 3G networks and deploy LTE and expand the number of sectors used in the mobile network. All of these events may require new antennas. In upgrading their antennas, iGR expects that over the entire forecast period U.S. mobile operators will visit nearly 230,000 macrosites in order to upgrade the antennas.


Key Questions Answered

  • What are cell towers and sites?
  • What are antennas?
  • What are antenna arrays?
  • How do antennas work?
  • What is MIMO, carrier aggregation and beamforming?
  • What are active antenna systems?
  • Why do mobile operators replace antenna arrays?
  • What are some of the key cost drivers surrounding antenna replacement?
  • How many 2G/3G antennas are currently deployed?
  • How many 4G LTE antennas are currently deployed?
  • What is the forecast for 2G, 3G and 4G antennas through 2020?
  • What will it cost to upgrade/replace antenna array?

Who Should Read

  • Mobile operators, particularly those servicing the U.S. market
  • Wireless antenna manufacturers and providers
  • Wireless network construction vendors
  • Mobile wireless tower companies
  • Wired and wireless infrastructure vendors, particularly those servicing the U.S. market
  • Financial and investment analysts.

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Executive Summary
  • Methodology
  • Basic Mobile Operator Network Architecture
    • Devices
    • Wireless Spectrum
    • Cell Sites
    • Fronthaul & Backhaul
    • Mobile Network Core
  • A High-level Overview of Antennas
    • Basic Antennas
    • Gain
    • Polarization
    • Antenna Size
    • Beamforming & MIMO
    • Transmission Modes & Antennas
    • Carrier Aggregation
    • Dynamically Adjusting Antennas
    • Smaller Sectors
    • Antenna Installation
    • Why Operators Upgrade Antennas
  • U.S. Antenna Forecast
    • Assumptions
    • Antenna Forecast
    • Total Antennas
  • Forecast: Cost of Antenna Installation
    • Cost-related Assumptions
    • Cost Forecast
  • Antenna Vendor Profiles
    • Alpha Wireless
    • Amphenol
    • Cobham Wireless
    • CommScope
    • Ethertronics
    • Galtronics
    • Kathrein
    • Kenbotong Technology
    • L-Com
    • Laird Technologies
    • Performance Critical Technologies (PCTel)
    • ZDA Communications
  • Definitions
    • General
    • Device Types
    • Services
    • Network Technology
  • About iGR
    • Disclaimer

List of Tables

  • Table 1: LTE Sectors per U.S. Frequency Band, 2015-2020
  • Table 2: 2G/3G Sectors per U.S. Frequency Band, 2015-2020
  • Table 3: Number of Tower Visits per Year, 2015-2020
  • Table 4: LTE Antennas Deployed U.S. Only, 2015-2020
  • Table 5: Average LTE Antennas per sector, 2015-2020
  • Table 6: Number of 2G/3G-only Antennas in the U.S., 2015-2020
  • Table 7: Percent of 2G/3G-Only Antennas, 2015-2020
  • Table 8: Total Antennas, U.S. Only 2015-2020
  • Table 9: Average Antennas per Sector (based on Total Antennas), 2015-2020
  • Table 10: Number of New Antennas per Year in the U.S., 2015-2020
  • Table 11: Antenna Cost Assumptions & Forecast for Antenna Installation, 2015-2020
  • Table 12: Antenna Installation Costs, 2015-2020
  • Table 13: Antenna Cost Assumptions & Forecast for Antenna Installation, 2015-2020

List of Charts and Figures

  • Figure A: Total Antennas Installed in the U.S. by Frequency Band, 2015-2020
  • Figure 1: Basic Components of Cellular Voice/Data Network
  • Figure 2: Typical Macrocell Site
  • Figure 3: Common Types of Cell Towers
  • Figure 4: Cell Site Backhaul Capabilities and Use Cases, Wired and Wireless
  • Figure 5: Overview of the EPC
  • Figure 6: Simple Half-wave Dipole Antenna
  • Figure 7: Radiation Pattern, Dipole Antenna
  • Figure 8: Yagi-Uda Antenna
  • Figure 9: Stacking Dipoles to Increase Gain
  • Figure 10: Antenna Polarization
  • Figure 11: Antenna Schematic, Cross-Polarized Antennas
  • Figure 12: Relative Size of Antennas at Different Wavelengths
  • Figure 13: Spacing between Radiating Elements
  • Figure 14: Beamforming and MIMO
  • Figure 15: 2x2 MIMO
  • Figure 16: Overview of Transmission Modes in LTE, 3GPP Release 12
  • Figure 17: Transmission Modes and Antenna Types
  • Figure 18: Carrier Aggregation, LTE-Advanced
  • Figure 19: Tilting Antennas
  • Figure 20: Structure Active Antenna Systems
  • Figure 21: AAS Beamforming and Beamsteering Applications
  • Figure 22: Moving from 3 Sectors per Cell Site to 6 Sectors
  • Figure 23: LTE Sectors per U.S. Frequency Band, 2015-2020
  • Figure 24: 2G/3G Sectors per U.S. Frequency Band, 2015-2020
  • Figure 25: Number of Tower Visits per Year, 2015-2020
  • Figure 26: LTE Antennas Deployed in the U.S., 2015-2020
  • Figure 27: Average LTE Antennas per sector, 2015-2020
  • Figure 28: Number of 2G/3G-only Antennas in the U.S., 2015-2020
  • Figure 29: Percent of 2G/3G-Only Antennas, 2015-2020
  • Figure 30: Total Antennas in the U.S., 2015-2020
  • Figure 31: Average Antennas per Sector (based on Total Antennas), 2015-2020
  • Figure 32: Number of New Antennas per Year in the U.S., 2015-2020
  • Figure 33: Cost of Antenna Installation, 2015-2020

For additional information on the U.S. Macrocell Antenna Forecast, 2015 - 2020: Spectrum Drives Upgrades and More Sectors market study, please contact Iain Gillott, at (512) 263-5682 or by email.