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RAN investment growth will rely on alternative deployers – EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Free Download

Deployment of base stations by new and alternative cellular operators 2019-2025

A critical difference between mobile network deployments in the 5G era, and those in preceding generations, will be the diversity of organizations building, managing and monetizing them.

For the first time, in the 5G era, major deployments of cellular networks will be made by non-MNOs. By 2025, although traditional operators will still dominate capex spending on wide area macro networks, almost one-third of budget on greenfield, localized and indoor networks will be spent by new entrants.

But at the start of this fresh era in cellular, how do you allocate resources? A portion to chase existing clients, a portion to chase a new generation of client, or specialize in one or the other?

What you need is a roadmap of where the spend will come from, existing MNOs or new players broken out by regions.

This report from Rethink Technology Research’s RAN Research service, entitled “RAN investment growth will rely on alternative deployers” and subtitled “Deployment of base stations by new and alternative cellular operators 2019-2025,” provides such a roadmap.

This forecast, constructed by our head of research Caroline Gabriel, one of the most experienced and respected analysts working in the cellular field today, shows how capex from the usual suspects will continue to fall (-4%) each year to 2025, and it highlights which sectors, in which regions, will help pick up the slack, as new customers spend hard to get into the 5G market from a standing start.

For vendors, this change in marketplace behaviour is a welcome mitigation of the general decline in capex spending on RANs, caused in the past by consolidation of MNOs, shifts to software-centric or open platforms, and the emergence of asset reuse. In the macro network, overall equipment investments will fall by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of -4% between 2019 and 2025, but spending by alternative deployers, though less than 2% of the global total to begin with, will rise at a similar rate.

Cumulatively to 2025 the industry will spend $51.8bn, and 43% of that will be invested by alternative operators.

The need for connectivity for applications such as autonomous fleets or deliveries, manufacturing and others, has already driven a surge in private LTE networks, which might be deployed and run by a variety of organizations, from integrators to specialist private operators, enterprises to MNOs themselves.

This report forecasts spend across equipment type, not just Macro spending, but also all forms of Micro base stations, and new Mini-Macro formats. Cumulatively through the period, new and alternative operators will deploy 978,000 macro and micro base stations, and will finally kickstart widespread adoption of small cells.

In small and mini-macro cells (outdoor, macro-equivalent base stations mounted on street furniture or walls), the picture is more dramatic with alternative deployers accounting for one-third of equipment spending by 2025, and their investment growing at a CAGR of 43%, compared to 29% for the market as a whole.

The report identifies 8 categories for new players;

  • New licensed MNO; Examples: Rakuten, Reliance Jio.
  • Heavy MVNO; who builds out some part of its own RAN
  • Private operator licensed which deploys for private customers only
  • Private operator shared; As above, but using shared spectrum
  • Neutral host licensed; which deploys wholesale-only networks
  • Neutral host shared: As above, but in shared or unlicensed spectrum.
  • Enterprise: Direct deployment by enterprise/ collection of companies
  • City: Direct deployment by a municipality

Who should read this report and what should they get out of it?

This report is critical to anyone involved in preparing a business plan to enter the 5G space, whether that’s putting themselves up against exist-ing MNOs navigating new individual services for an MNO. It will help vendors plan their most effective sales strategy in 5G, and help opera-tors control their costs. As such this report is for anyone involved in strategy at a network providers, their technology partners, implement-ers, equipment suppliers, software providers and investors, at C Suite level down to product marketing and product planning. The RAN Re-search arm of Rethink Technology Research is essential reading for any-one who wants to stay on top of current trends and thinking among MNOs.It’s like being a fly on the wall in their planning meetings and is based on questions MNOs have answered about their planned and fu-ture expenditure.

This report will;

·Give you a spreadsheet you can drop directly your planning

·Understand the future landscape of increased 5G competition, taking in new entrants.

·Help you build a go to market plan for a new 5G service.

Companies mentioned in this report:

Altice USA, AT&T, Bosch, Charter, Com-cast, Crown Castle, DenseAIR, Digital Colony, Dish Network, Free mobile, Iliad, iWireless, SK Telekom, Rakuten, Reliance Jio, Zayo

How Do I buy this report?

Please follow the link to our store or email [email protected]

This report has been compiled by our Head of Research, Caroline Gabriel who can also be emailed at [email protected]

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Table of Figures3


Operator proliferation reverses a decade-long trend of consolidation8

New entrants and new spectrum policy drive diversity in macro and micro networks12

New macro networks are not just displaced investment -new providers add incremental spend13

Outdoor and indoor localized networks will be the main engine of new operating models14

Alternative operators will finally kickstart capex spending on small cells18

Open RAN architectures and shared spectrum will be key drivers of new deployment models19



The Rethink RAN Research process summarized24

RAN Research: Forecasting disruption in wireless25


About rethink Technology Research27

Figure 1.Total RAN and core equipment capex spend by traditional and alternative operators 2019 to 2025 (Table 15)10

Figure 2. Deployments of macro and micro base stations by new or alternative operators, by operator type 2019 to 2025 (Table 3).11

Figure 3. Deployments and upgrades of macro and micro base stations by region 2019 to 2025 (Table 1)12

Figure 4. Deployments of macro and micro base stations by new or alternative operators 2019 to 2025 (Table 2)13

Figure 5. Macro and micro base station equipment capex spending by region 2019 to 2025 (Table 7)13

Figure 6. Macro and micro base station equipment capex spending by new or alternative operators 2019 to 2025 (Table 8)14

Figure 7. Deployments and upgrades of mini-macro base stations by region 2019 to 2025 (Table 4)16

Figure 8. Deployments and upgrades of mini-macro base stations by new or alternative operators 2019 to 2025 (Table 5)16

Figure 9. Deployments and upgrades of indoor and low power small cells 2019 to 2025 (Table 9)17

Figure 10. Deployments of indoor small cells by new or alternative operators, by region 2019 to 2025 (Table 10)

17Figure 11. Indoor small cell and outdoor mini-macro equipment capex spending by region 2019 to 2025 (Table 13)

18Figure 12. Indoor small cell and outdoor mini-macro equipment capex spending by new or alternative operators, by region 2019 to 2025 (Table 14)

18Figure 13. Deployment of indoor and outdoor small cells based on open RAN architectures, by operator type 2020 to 2025 (Table 12)20