Wireless Telcos to Spend $9B on C-RAN in 2017; or $1.13B in 2022?

Mobile operators are expected to invest nearly $9 billion in C-RAN (cloud or centralized radio access network) infrastructure roll-outs by the end of 2017, according to a report by SNS Research.

Benefits of CRAN include improved performance due to the ability to coordinate between cells, and also cost reductions as a result of pooling resources.

The C-RAN market is expected to grow at a CAGR of approximately 24% between 2017 and 2020. These investments will include spending on RRHs (Remote Radio Heads), BBUs (Baseband Units) and front haul transport network equipment.

SNS Research said:

C-RAN is an architectural shift in RAN (Radio Access Network) design, where the bulk of baseband processing is centralized and aggregated for a large number of distributed radio nodes.  Initially popularized by Japanese and South Korean mobile operators, C-RAN technology is beginning to gain momentum worldwide with major tier 1 operators –  including Verizon Communications, AT&T, Sprint, China Mobile, Vodafone, TIM (Telecom Italia Mobile), Orange and Telefónica –  seeking to leverage the benefits of centralized baseband processing.

In comparison to standalone clusters of base stations, C-RAN provides significant performance and economic benefits such as: baseband pooling, enhanced coordination between cells, virtualization, network extensibility, smaller deployment footprint and reduced power consumption.

The “C-RAN (Centralized Radio Access Network) Ecosystem: 2017 – 2030 – Opportunities, Challenges, Strategies & Forecasts” report presents an in-depth assessment of the C-RAN ecosystem including enabling technologies, key trends, market drivers, challenges, standardization, regulatory landscape, deployment models, operator case studies, opportunities, future road map, value chain, ecosystem player profiles and strategies. The report also presents forecasts for C-RAN infrastructure investments from 2017 till 2030. The forecasts cover 3 individual sub-markets and 6 regions.

SNS Research said their report would to be of value to current and future potential investors into the C-RAN ecosystem, as well as enabling technology providers, C-RAN solution providers, mobile operators and other ecosystem players who wish to broaden their knowledge of the ecosystem.  For further information concerning the SNS Research report “The C-RAN (Centralized Radio Access Network) Ecosystem: 2017 – 2030 – Opportunities, Challenges, Strategies & Forecasts” please visit: http://www.snstelecom.com/c-ran 

For a sample please contact:
Email: info@snstelecom.com

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Separately, in a research report titled: “Cloud Radio Access Network (C-RAN) Market – Global Forecast to 2022,”  Research and Markets said that the market for C-RAN is expected to grow from US $681.6 million in 2017 to US $1,132.3 million by 2022, at a CAGR of 10.7%.

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Editor’s Note:  That $1,132.3M Research and Markets forecast by 2022 is significantly less than the $9B SNS Research says wireless carriers will spend on C-RAN this year!  Also note that Research and Markets C-RAN forecast of $681.6M in 2017 is only 7.57% of $9B forecast by SNS Research for this same year.  The CAGR is also substantially lower at 10.7% from Research and Markets vs 24% from SNS Research (see above).

The above referenced Research and Markets report is evidently being sold by Markets and Markets (India), and by several other report selling firms.  Hence, we have no idea who did the actual C-RAN market research and forecasts.  The numbers seem to be very shaky to us and some of the report re-sellers use terrible English grammar.

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Author’s Note on C-RAN Definitions and Distinctions:

A Cloud-RAN (C-RAN type 1) is a virtualized radio access network that could coordinate multiple radio sites from a data center using NFV and/or SDN techniques. The management of geographically dispersed radio sites is managed by ac compute server in the data center.

A Centralized-RAN (C-RAN type 2) refers to pooling baseband units, in a co-location facility, central office or other carrier owned property. Operators do this to minimize footprint and achieve maximize efficiency when providing broadband wireless services within a stadium, block of Class A commercial buildings or other areas of high network demand.  The baseband processing unit (BBU) is the part of the RAN that carriers may move to a central location from which multiple remote radio heads can be served.

According to RCR Wireless – What is C-RAN?:

Centralized RAN and centralized DAS (Distributed Antenna System) both describe architectures in which the mobile operator maintains direct control and ownership of the baseband equipment. Cloud RAN implies this equipment is owned by another service provider, or the baseband processing is handled in software run on a generic “white box” server.

​”From a network point of view cloud and centralized RAN are the same in terms of requirements (front haul for instance) and work in the same way,” said analyst Monica Paolini of Senza Fili Consulting. “The difference is in the ownership of equipment.”

Paolini foresees more uptake for centralized RAN than for cloud-based RAN in the months ahead.  “I think it is unlikely that operators would want to give control to a third party for the RAN baseband – ownership maybe, but not control,” Paolini added.

–>Please see Addendum for descriptions of Nokia and Ericsson C-RAN products.

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Research and Markets C-RAN Forecast (continued):

Key players were said to be: Nokia, Cisco Systems, Samsung, ZTE Corporation, Altiostar (?), Ericsson, Huawei, NEC, Fujitsu, Intel & Mavenir (?).

4G and 5G accessibility, the reduction of Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) and Operational Expenditure (OPEX) are the major factors driving the growth of the global C-RAN market, according to Research and Markets.

Government and security standards are expected to be the major restraints for the C-RAN market. Regulatory policies differ from nation to nation and from business to business. The structure of these varying regulatory policies, along with changing macroeconomic factors, makes it difficult for vendors to meet the end-users’ requirements.

A conservative base station consists of Base Band Units (BBUs) and Remote Radio Heads (RRHs). Centralized RAN pools BBUs in a centralized location where they are clustered with other BBUs. Virtualized RAN moves the base band processor to a data center. Hence, it can also be termed as cloud RAN.

Virtualization technology is expected to have the largest market size during the forecast period.

North America is expected to witness the highest CAGR and market share during the forecast period. Factors such as continual growth in the mobile network, increasing business complexities, and the unregulated nature of the internet are driving the growth of the C-RAN market in North America.

Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and “5G” were said to be driving forces for C-RAN deployments.

Research and Markets Contact:
Laura Wood, Senior Manager
press@researchandmarkets.com
For E.S.T Office Hours Call 1-917-300-0470
For U.S./CAN Toll Free Call 1-800-526-8630

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Addendum:

1. From Nokia’s Centralized-RAN product description:

Nokia Centralized RAN software uses clusters of LTE base stations to turn the interference into useful traffic. The base stations use uplink signals from multiple cells’ base stations to cancel the interference and select the best signals from 12 receivers. Network configuration is optimized every millisecond for each mobile device to match actual interference, enhancing LTE upload speeds.

Centralized RAN creates liquid capacity for mass events where the uplink environment is limited, enabling ultra dense cell deployments. It uses the LTE-Advanced capability of Uplink Coordinated Multi-point (UL CoMP) to turn interference into useful traffic. With this, we are able to double average uplink capacity and provide up to ten-fold cell edge throughput gains.  It also uses up to 33% less power, for longer device battery life.

Benefits include:

  • Maximizes spectral efficiency and use to give more than 200 percent average uplink throughput gain

  • Eliminates cell edge degradation to give ten-fold increase in cell edge uplink speeds

  • Works with all existing R8 LTE terminals and Nokia equipment, making it easy to deploy

2.  From Ericsson’s Cloud-RAN product description:

Mobile broadband is approaching a point where cellular infrastructure is a viable substitute for fixed broadband in many markets. In this new environment, mobile operators are seeking ways to increase network capacity and coverage while reducing time to market for new services and achieving lower total cost of ownership.

To accomplish this, they must cost-effectively combine multiple standards, frequency bands, cell layers and transport network solutions, while at the same time shortening latencies and handling substantially increased data rates.

By introducing Cloud RAN architectures, operators will be able to use Network Functions Virtualization techniques and data center processing capabilities in their networks. This allows for resource pooling, scalability, layer interworking and spectral efficiency.

Cloud RAN can provide further benefits in terms of more separated and decoupled scalability of the different parts of the RAN functionality, as well as a decreased need for dedicated radio hardware and options to mitigate functional and capacity asymmetries introduced by future, much more capable radio access technologies.

Cloud RAN is a frequently used expression today, but is often used with different meanings. When Ericsson talks about Cloud RAN, we want to incorporate as many important aspects of network architecture as possible, with focus on concepts that deals with collaboration. This will give us the flexibility to talk about it in more than one way.

Cloud RAN covers coordination, centralization and virtualization and is a classical optimization problem with more than one boundary condition for successful business. There will not be one solution that fits all scenarios. Solutions will need to coexist and leverage investments made. In the end, the successful operators and vendors will of course be the ones that manage to provide the best user experience at the lowest total cost of ownership.

https://www.telecomasia.net/content/telcos-spend-9b-c-ran-2017

http://www.snstelecom.com/c-ran-centralized-ran-a-9-billion-opportunity-says-sns-research-report

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170808005786/en/Cloud-Radio-Access-Network-C-RAN-Market-Reach

http://www.rcrwireless.com/20151222/featured/what-is-c-ran-tag4

https://networks.nokia.com/products/centralized-ran

https://www.ericsson.com/ourportfolio/networks-solutions/cloud-ran?nav=fgb_101_0851

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