Macro Layer deployments and key trends 3G to 5G, this macro layer forecast looks at the deployments and trends through to 2021.
“The AAU reduces hardware components by 66%, says one deployer, China Unicom. Such figures will encourage adoption, as will the evolution of standards such as ETSI’s Open Radio Interface – based on CPRI, but simpler and more fully standardized and therefore interoperable.”
Many of the innovations which operators are making in their networks will focus on small cells, but it will be important to squeeze maximum capacity and quality of service from their existing macro networks too. LTE networks will be enhanced in two ways which will often work in parallel, and both of which will plot a path to 5G (though for some mobile operators, that will not come for a decade or so).
Most operators will introduce 5G radios while continuing to evolve their 4G networks, with perhaps a decade of coexistence. And others will not feel they need to make a radio change for many years, but will nevertheless transform their overall network architecture to improve their economics, service delivery and quality of experience.
These options will be enabled by the second strand of macro evolution, the architectural shift, to virtualized end-to-end networks including wide area and localized Cloud-RANs; and to the use of software-defined networking (SDN) to support flexible resource allocation and eventually, new behaviors like network slicing.
The wireless forecast included in this report is based on research on the top 40 international mobile operator groups, which account for 80% of the global mobile subscribers (IMG-40). A total of 122 operating companies are included. From this representative group of operators, the macrocell and metrocell forecasts are developed.
These forecasts were based on a combination of data from:
- Detailed surveys, interviews and operator-by-operator modeling of the IMG-40 groups.
- Studies of the deployments and strategies of the top 100 4G operators, as tracked by Rethink Technology Research’s quarterly surveys, interviews and desk research.
- A survey of 25 tier one operators about their detailed plans for RAN deployments to 2021 and 5G plans.
- Input from ecosystem vendors on shipments, technology strategies and competitive landscape, also updated quarterly.
Based on the surveys of operators and vendors, it was then calculated how those cell sites would be equipped – by base station type, technology, frequency band etc, leading to a detailed unit and market size measurement.
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