Ronald MudryThe wireless industry has been talking about small cells for quite some time with minimal action, but it appears the time for small cell outdoor networks has arrived.

Ronald Mudry, CEO of Tower Cloud, which is in the process of moving into the small cell backhaul space, will be discussing the emergence of small cells during a panel Wednesday at PCIA's annual conference in Orlando.

In an interview with Mudry prior to the conference, Mudry said small cell and DAS initiatives aimed at improving capacity are finally being put in motion by major carriers and at significant scale.

"Those deployments are actually starting to be reality now, deals are starting to happen," Mudry said.

Mudry isn't the only one observing the trend. Recent research from ABI Research indicates a healthy 2014 growth in equipment revenue at a year-on-year rate of 33 percent to $1.8 billion. ABI attributes that growth  to operators like AT&T, Verizon, Vodafone, Telefonica, Softbank, SK Telecom, and Sprint driving shipments of both outdoor and metrocell deployments.

Mudry has put together a panel for the show that includes Wayne Davidson, director of technology solutions for Nexius, Greg Ortyl, co-founder of PEG Bandwidth, and Francis Audet, senior product line manager of EXFO's optical business unit. He hopes the discussion will offer attendees a unique look at some of the challenges and solutions inherent in the successful deployment of small cells, from backhaul to business model.

For a technology that is really just now being implemented, Mudry said that there are still a lot of kinks to be worked out, especially when it comes to what kind of backhaul will be run to small cells.

"I think the industry is still looking at all the alternatives," Mudry commented. "Some deployments will lend themselves to one type of technology...customers prefer dark fiber, if it can be justified....but I think economics come into play."

It’s all part of the formula that will have to be worked out as carrier finally dive into a new, more flexible technology for improving and maintaining capacity now that LTE coverage has reached the final phases.

Mudry says PCIA is the ideal place for this kind of discussion.

“I attend PCIA because I think there are a lot of other players in the industry that are there,” he said. “in some cases those are customers or partners, but I think the show gives us an opportunity to meet and get to know other people that are on the cutting edge.”