Nokia tops small cell market thanks to innovative streak, says research firm

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Nokia has been named the industry's top small cell vendor in ABI Research's latest scorecard of the sector, thanks to its Alcatel-Lucent takeover and an increasing number of deployments.

Senior Analyst Ahmed Ali said public and metropolitan rollouts were benefiting from an increasingly sophisticated range of planning, installation and management tools. He noted the "small cells as a service" delivery model was helping the market, with vendors collaborating with operators to solve deployment issues.

Nokia recently revealed a solar-powered small cell that can be "dropped and forgotten about" by a drone.

[Read more: Nokia CFO quits as sales continue to fall]

Ali said: “Small cells are fundamental to the next-generation 5G networks, which is why vendors like Nokia are innovating by developing future-proof, well-rounded solutions that allow operators to expand their network capabilities and provide high-quality services.

“Features like multi-band, multi-access, carrier aggregation, unlicensed integration, VoLTE, and virtualisation, which were once nice to have, are now essential to the new wave of small cells.”

However, while Ali noted that while the small cell market has innovated in technology and deployment models, he said the advent of 5G meant vendors needed to continue to reinvent their solutions to meet demand.

He said: “To remain in the competition, vendors now need to not only provide flexible and diverse small cell technologies that meet the different requirements across the market segments, but also keep reinventing deployment models with faster times to market and more cost effective approaches.”

Huawei and Ericsson were second and third respectively in ABI's assessment of the market.