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A newly released survey of mobile operators suggests that small cell deployments will jump 22-fold by 2025 compared to 2015 levels.

The poll of more than 50 companies, commissioned by Small Cell Forum and conducted by Rethink Technology Research, found that the number of non-residential small cell sites would climb by an average annual rate of 36 percent over that span to reach nearly 8.5 million.

The group said that small cell density is already increasing in LTE networks and will only intensify as next-generation 5G networks are implemented. Nearly 60 percent of participating companies expected to focus on small cells in the first two to three years of 5G New Radio.

“The industry is seeing explosive growth in the number of small cell deployments, which provide the densification solution to grow today’s LTE networks, as well as providing a fundamental building block for tomorrow’s 5G deployments,” Small Cell Forum Chairman David Orloff said in a statement.

As operators increase their small cell footprints, 40 percent of respondents expected to add 100 to 350 sites per square kilometer in new territories by 2020. In addition, small cell deployments for enterprises nearly doubled between 2015 and 2017 and are projected to skyrocket by up to 1,600 percent through 2025.

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