RAN Research, a division of Rethink Technology Research, says in a new report that private 5G network deployments will surge over the next few years faster 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 WiFi 6E standard (IEEE 802.11ax endpoints that are capable of operating at 6 GHz, as well as in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz spectra already used by Wi-Fi 6). They will offer greater capacity and performance than the current WiFi generation (IEEE 802.11ac, 802.11n, etc).
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.
Private 5G networks will generate annual revenues of US$19.3 billion worldwide in 2027, up from $1.5 billion this year, according to a new report written by Rethink analyst Caroline Gabriel. Growth will be at its fastest in the 2022-2025 period, peaking in 2027 and then declining towards the end of the decade as market saturation approaches, she notes.
By 2028 there will be 26.6 million private 5G networks deployed globally, a significant increase on the 1.1 million expected to be rolled out this year.
Image Courtesy of Qualcomm
These are key findings of the latest report, “Private Networks Driving Opportunities in 5G and WiFi” from RAN Research, the wireless forecasting arm of Rethink Technology Research. The 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 industry vertical where deployments of private 5G and WiFi 6E will flourish.
Private 5G networks are on the verge of rapid take off to generate a surge in annual revenues for network equipment from $1.5 billion in 2021 to $19.3 billion in 2027. Growth will be fastest in most markets from 2022 to 2025 before tailing off and declining towards the end of the period after 2027 as saturation approaches.
By 2028 there will be 26.6 million private 5G networks deployed around the world, up from 1.1 million in 2021. This growth will occur in all regions but will be most striking in the four countries leading the private 5G field now, the U.S., Germany, China and Japan. Of these four, China stands out for facing stronger regulatory resistance to private 5G where roll out is dominated by the three great stateowned monopolies, China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom. But strong upsurge from enterprises, including government agencies as well as manufacturers, looks like opening up the country ’ enterprise 5G field to rapid growth.
Image Courtesy of Qualcomm
Private wireless networks will be deployed at a faster rate than 5G as a whole in most markets, as mobile networks combined with edge compute become capable of meeting more use cases and enabling new applications in manufacturing process, UAVs, remote healthcare, advanced transportation and others.
WiFi 6E is on course for a similar growth trajectory as private 5G, tailing off later in the forecast period. It is true though that only the next generation WiFi 7 that will start being deployed after 2024 will close the gap on 5G in peak performance, capacity and low latency. Our forecast numbers for WiFi 6E also include early deployments of WiFi 7 without making any distinction. Certainly, until that 7th generation comes along, WiFi will lack the deterministic behavior required for the most demanding ultra low latency real time applications, such as control of UAVs. In these scenarios 5G will be preferred but WiFi will continue to coexist for applications where best effort performance is adequate. This will include some of those use cases touted for 5G under the eMBB category concerned mostly with high capacity, although WiFi 6E itself still has to justify investment in the upgrade from WiFi 5. 5G will emerge in some cases as an immediate alternative to WiFi 6E. There are also common factors affecting both private 5G and WiFi 6E roll out, such as chip shortages and other continuing impacts of the global Covid19 pandemic. All these will impede deployments in the short and medium term, with both service providers and their equipment suppliers reporting a slowdown resulting from changed working practices during the pandemic and disruptions within the supply chain.
For some enterprises where blanket indoor coverage is established there will be more concerted migration from WiFi to cellular for private wireless communications. But unless such 5G coverage is almost ubiquitous, users will continue with WiFi and indeed penetration will increase around new best effort use cases.
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