Over the past decade, reports show small cell deployments have grown almost 400% in the U.S., especially in densely populated areas. Small cell development is also projected to grow over 800% in the next ten years. However, research by Altman Solon has found that small cell growth is much slower than projected due to regulatory climate, lack of neutral hosts, and limited backhaul. COVID-19 created additional construction availability shortfalls.
Nearly 70% of all identified small cell nodes are located in dense urban areas with higher data demand and 5G deployment exists. But recently, suburban areas are seeing nearly equal deployment numbers as urban areas, with 2019 and 2020 having the highest suburban small cell deployment to date. In many markets, regulatory challenges can limit growth — a 2018 FCC order attempted to reduce the regulatory burden on small cell deployment, but many states and local municipalities have relied on local ordinances and enacted their own small cell regulation.
Source: Altman Solon