Market for construction of new macro base stations (BTS) worth a nominal US$29 billion in 2015

Mobile telephone networks are in transition. Network architecture must manage high data-traffic growth rates, and support new 4G services and the increased demand for broadband and Internet access. In the developed countries a high level of coverage has been achieved but capacity is inadequate as data traffic escalates beyond all expectations. In the developing countries both coverage and capacity are wanting. Macro base stations with towers cover large cells and long distances but they fail to reach effectively inside buildings, where 70-80% of mobile broadband traffic is generated.

A new network concept has been launched – the HetNet, which combines large and small cell sites and different radio technologies like cellular and Wi-Fi. The first commercial HetNets are being rolled out. HetNets are the networks of the future with macro-micro coordination to improve Quality of Service.

Mobile Base Station Report 2016 Third Edition  quantifies the macro infrastructure of today, of base stations, ground based and rooftop towers and poles, forecasts growth and $ value to 2020 in every country, with analysis of ownership and market shares of tower vendors. The report outlines tomorrow’s new infrastructure, the HetNet, the macro-micro network. It outlines the technologies of macro and of micro cells and base stations, estimates current penetration and projects demand.

We are in the first stage of a new wave of technology for mobile telephones – the HetNet. Network technology is evolving rapidly to meet exponential new demands. The focus is shifting from coverage to capacity, driven by the rise in data traffic. The answer is the HetNet/Heterogeneous network. Past networks were based almost entirely on macro cellular base stations mounted on towers, rooftops and poles. They were designed for volumes of voice mail which were small by today’s standards. Data traffic has grown exponentially and is set to escalate by leaps and bounds, driven by the Internet, videos, and a plethora of 3G and 4G mobile devices.

The HetNet is providing the solution; a network which combines all types of base station, each designed for a different purpose; macros on towers and rooftops, micro, metro, pico, DAS and Wi-Fi both inside buildings and outside. These issues are discussed and analysed in this report. Macro base stations (BTS) will remain the core of the networks, but the networks must develop more granular delivery. We have constructed a database of macro base stations for every country, starting from the launch of mobile services in the 1980s.

In an electricity network replacement happens when equipment is past its design life and risks failure, and the replacement may also be an up-grade. In a mobile network this is not the case. From 1G to 2G, 3G and 4G and LTE the technology of the networks must be up-dated to new generations of technology at more frequent intervals. A regional analysis of GBTs (ground based towers) and RTTs (rooftop towers) is provided.

The total market is surveyed, macro and micro. Forecasts of base station capex, analysed by macro site additions, macro site upgrades and replacements, and new small cell sites with annual expenditure from 2015 to 2020. Total mobile traffic is analysed by cell site types: macro cell, in-building small cell, outdoor small cell, Wi-Fi hotspots, residential femtocell, DAS/RRH. The populations of GBTs and RTTs are analysed by region.

The market for construction of new macro base stations (BTS), ground-based, rooftop and street poles, upgrades and replacement of aged assets is estimated and forecast in nominal $ from 2015 to 2020, for the world, for regions and is analysed by 213 countries. Market commentary is provide by regions and major countries.

The steady growth of the macro cellular infrastructure does not fully reflect the real rate of expansion of the networks. With mobile data traffic expected to double annually, small cell base stations are set to play an important role in expanding the capacity of wireless networks. Small cells provide flexibility and increased QoS capabilities. Past development of small cells is analysed to help predict the future path. Shipments are analysed in units by cell type. The cost components of a small cell installation are analysed. Global expenditure on installing small cells with related costs and backhaul is estimated for 2015 and projected annually to 2020 for regions and 33 countries. Capex is analysed by residential/non-residential and by cell type.

Tower sharing allows operators to cut down on capital expenditure. Infrastructure cost for operators is estimated to decline by 16% to 20%. Running and maintenance of tower infrastructure, form a significant portion of operator Opex. Divesting responsibility for infrastructure unlocks value. Site and/or tower sharing is the most common form of network sharing, but full network sharing is gaining traction. The various forms of infrastructure sharing are outlined and the towerco market is analysed by country.

A breakdown of tower construction cost by component is given. Infrastructure and network sharing, either between operators or via independent tower owners, is growing rapidly but has a distinct regional pattern. MNOs share assets with jointly-owned infracos in Europe, Japan and many other regions. Independent towercos started in the United States and are also prevalent in India, in China since 2015, in Southeast Asia and are making headway rapidly in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The incidence of sharing is given by regions and major countries with total numbers of macro towers and the numbers owned by towercos. Detailed market profiles are given for regions and leading countries. Energy accounts for 30% of the network operating costs of an MNO. 90% of sites have diesel base generators where towers are off-grid or as standby to grid supply when grid-connected. For cost and environmental reasons there is a growing trend towards renewables systems, mainly solar PV or hybrid systems of solar PV and wind power.

Read the full report: Mobile Base Station Report 2016 Third Edition

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