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RAN Research

RAN Research releases 6 forecasts a year, covering Small cells, the structure of 5G, Optimization and SON, Macro Layer RAN, Cloud RAN and Mobile Edge Computing.

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    The RAN Research arm of Rethink Technology Research is an essential reading for anyone 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 future expenditure.

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12 April 2022

Fixed Wireless Access Rises to Reduce Broadband Deficits

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    Fixed wireless access (FWA) has emerged as a major use case for 5G in many markets, after years of being offered as a broadband connectivity option chiefly in remote areas that are largely unserved by a wired alternative such as telco DSL, cable TV or fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP). But now the technological advances of 5G are helping to remove the shackles from the Fixed Wireless Access business model in a wider range of scenarios than before.

    Fixed Wireless Access subscriber numbers are already accelerating dramatically in key developed markets, such as the USA, largely as a result of 5G. However, numbers are also increasing even with 4G support only, driven by rising demand for broadband and improvements to the Fixed Wireless Access deployment models. 4G is enabling expansion of broadband coverage, even at a lower level of performance than 5G, in various developing countries, such as South Africa, the Philippines and Indonesia.

    These two trends combined will propel global Fixed Wireless Access subscriptions at a faster rate than had been widely anticipated until recently, from 64m in 2021 to 218.8m in 2028.

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7 February 2022

Open RAN faces significant challenges in the Macro RAN

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    Adoption of full Open RAN architectures, and of new suppliers or multivendor networks, will be accelerated or delayed (even until the 6G era, potentially) depending on how effectively the emerging ecosystem addresses key challenges of performance, cost and complexity of integration, solution immaturity and cloud migration.

    Among these challenges, as our forecast details, an affordable, power-efficient distributed unit that can match the performance of a special-purpose solution; and the full optimization of Open RAN for Massive MIMO antenna arrays, are the most pressing technical challenges. We go as far as to say that addressing these two challenges, at a time when operators are accelerating adoption of Massive MIMO and seeking to support very advanced 5G use cases, will decide the level of success of Open RAN in the macro network before 2027.

    Beyond the technology, many overlapping decisions need to be made about supplier relationships, public or private cloud platforms, 5G use case priorities, and whether the 5G SA/core migration needs to go hand-in-hand with vRAN adoption. All of this will take time and require operators to conduct complex balancing of risk and reward. The opportunity for Open RAN architectures and vendors is huge, and could reshape the mobile industry, and 2022-2023 will be the crucial period in which we see how far it will fulfil that potential.

    Rethink’s forecast is built on many data points and inputs, but most importantly on a survey of 72 mobile and converged operators, including new entrants, conducted in the fourth quarter of 2021. All respondents are deploying, trialling or evaluating macro network vRAN and/or Open RAN, a community that, at this point in time, represents almost 65% of tier one and two operators (though a smaller percentage when tier three and four operators are considered). This report focuses on vRAN, Open RAN and Massive MIMO in the outdoor macro and micro base station market

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7 December 2021

4G Deployments – The Backbone of 5G

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    The 4G infrastructure and subscriber base still has five more years of growth worldwide and will dominate in developing regions as earlier generations reach their sunset. At the same time, 4G infrastructure will provide the foundation for 5G in many developed countries before Stand Alone deployments with native 5G cores are deployed widely. 4G networks will also continue to fill in coverage for 5G services as users roam and carry large amounts of mobile traffic even in those countries such as China and South Korea that are rolling out 5G fastest.

    These are conclusions of the latest report from RAN Research, the analytics arm of Rethink Technology Research, “4G Deployments — The Backbone of 5G”. Any global summary of 4G masks great regional variations, with 5G arriving like a whirlwind in some markets while in others 4G is still accelerating and will itself help galvanize economic growth and technological progress, often filling in fixed broadband coverage gaps. A variety of factors are behind the regional differences in roll out of both 4G and 5G, including variations in spectrum allocation, regulatory policy, timing of shutdown for legacy generations, and also disposable consumer income.

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7 October 2021

Migration choices and dilemmas in vRAN and Open RAN

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    Advanced mobile operators have embarked on their journey to fully cloud-based networks, but the virtualized RAN is usually the final stage on the roadmap, because of its enormous technical challenges and uncertain economics. However, several developments are converging so that the incentives to embark on RAN virtualization outweigh the significant risks.

    Improved technology enablers and market conditions will drive a 60% CAGR in operating spending on vRAN as a whole, and 124% CAGR in the Open RAN subset of that sector, between 2020 and 2026. This will result in spending of $35 billion by 2026. In terms of numbers of radio units deployed, the CAGR figures are predicted to be 34% and 184% respectively.

    These are the headline conclusions of the latest report from Rethink Technology Research’s RAN service, “Migration choices and dilemmas in vRAN and Open RAN”, which is published this week. The report is based on a unique forecast model that draws on many inputs including a survey, conducted in June-August 2021, of 78 mobile operators worldwide that have vRAN on their roadmap for the period to 2026.

    For more information contact:

    John Constant
    [email protected]
    Office +44 (0)7468 460739

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2 August 2021

Advanced Private Wireless Forecast: 5G and WiFi 6E

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    Private 5G network deployments will surge over the next few years faster even than public 5G, reaching a peak in 2027 when they will generate $19.3 billion in equipment sales, before subsiding after that as saturation approaches. There will be a similar boom in deployment of enterprise WiFi networks around the latest 6E standard offering greater capacity and performance than the current generation, closer to 5G. However, that WiFi growth will be confined largely to North America and Europe, and will peak earlier in 2024, after which an increasing number of sites will swing to 5G for more demanding use cases.

    These are key findings of the latest forecast, “Private Networks Driving Opportunities in 5G and WiFi” from RAN Research, the wireless forecasting arm of Rethink Technology Research. The Private Networs forecast drills down into regions and vertical industry sectors, identifying manufacturing as a major driver for private enterprise 5G in line with the industry 4.0 revolution, but with strong growth across the board. Healthcare, transportation, energy and government stand out as other sectors where deployments of private 5G and WiFi 6E will take off faster than the average.

    This private networks forecast will be valuable for all players in the private enterprise wireless space, particularly mobile operators and their technology providers. It is also aimed at enterprises themselves, particularly larger ones more likely to be actively involved in private network deployment. The private networks forecast is also of great interest to the large number of new entrants to the mobile field on the back of the private network growth. These include traditional providers of enterprise data center systems, as well as start-ups specializing in the private network field.

    For more information contact:

    John Constant
    [email protected]
    Office +44 (0)7468 460739

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10 June 2021

Patterns of migration to the 5G core

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    Rethink Technology Research has released its latest report, written by Caroline Gabriel, Research Director and Co-Founder, the report is entitled, ‘Patterns of migration to the 5G core’. The report, based on a survey of 78 Tier 1 and Tier 2 mobile operators from a global panel, includes extensive stakeholder interviews with operators, vendors, infrastructure service providers and cloud companies.

    The survey provides a detailed view on how operators are thinking, and what decisions they are on the verge of making, on the timing of deploying a 5G core, to support new business models.

    The report shows key decisions which operators need to make before going cloud-native.

    The most business-critical are:

    • Whether to build a telco cloud to support the core, or rely on public or third party clouds
    • Whether the cloud platform that supports the core should also be configured and optimized for other network functions as well as enterprise applications
    • How many locations will be required to support the right balance between the efficiencies of a centralized core, and the flexibility of a distributed one

    For more information contact:

    John Constant
    Business Specialist Director
    [email protected]
    Office +44 (0)7468 460739

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