The market for small cell backhaul equipment is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 48% over the next five years to over $5bn, according to a new ABI Research report.
By the forecast period, sub 6GHz technology is expected to capture 47% of small cell backhaul equipment revenue, of about $2.4bn, with 31% of last mile links.
However, the report projects that millimetre wave technology would be the fastest growing technology during the forecast period, reporting113% CAGR and reaching a value of $668m.
ABI Research principal analyst Nick Marshall said the non-line-of-sight (NLOS) properties of sub 6GHz backhaul would allow it to become the most popular backhaul technology for small cells by 2018.
"ABI Research believes that the millimetre wave bands from 60GHz to 80GHz will also prove compelling for small cell backhaul in many situations," Marshall said.
Conventional microwave equipment is expected to remain as the top technology for small cell backhaul applications with 34% share of revenue, almost $1.8bn, and quarter share of links in 2018.
"We believe that 4G/LTE small cell solutions will again drive most of the microwave and fibre backhaul growth in metropolitan, urban, and suburban areas with backhaul for 4G/LTE small cells reaching a value of $3.1 billion in 2018, growing at 2X the rate for 3G and surpassing 3G in 2016," Marshall added.