Rethink Research: Private 5G deployment will be faster than public 5G; WiFi 6E will also be successful
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.
Copyright © 2021 Rethink Research, All rights reserved.
China to drive private 5G network growth despite regulatory headwind– research
4 thoughts on “Rethink Research: Private 5G deployment will be faster than public 5G; WiFi 6E will also be successful”
If Rethink Research’s extremely bullish forecast for Private 5G is realized, it will mean telcos once again will have missed a great chance to monetize their 5G network infrastructure/build-outs. Also, they are abdicating control of all the intelligent 5G features/functions which are only realized with a 5G SA Core network and MEC. Both are likely to be outsourced to cloud hyper-scalers, e.g. AWS, Azure, Google Cloud. We discussed all this in detail in this IEEE Techblog post:
Counterpoint from ABI Research on 19 Aug 2021: Enterprises are becoming growingly impatient and starting to look at technology alternatives to solve their connectivity pain points
There are more than 290 fully publicly disclosed private network deployments worldwide, according to new research published by global tech advisory firm ABI Research. In China, the industry assumes there are several hundred private network deployments, but only 40 are fully publicly disclosed. Germany reports a total of 146 licenses granted to enterprises for the deployment of a mobile private network, with other European countries lagging far behind. Germany’s interest in private networks is fading, however. While the Bundesnetzagentur counted more than 80 new applications for local licenses in the second half of 2020, there were only 20 more applications in the second quarter of 2021. The fact that interest in private network is slowing down indicates that the telco industry needs to radically rethink their approach to enterprise 5G or miss out on the opportunity entirely.
Looking at the motivations behind the existing private network deployments confirms this alarming observation. In China, for example, almost all private network deployments are for real-life enterprise use-cases, motivated by demand. On the contrary, in Germany, most private networks are constituted by System Integrators or factory automation solution vendors, aiming to showcase 5G capabilities and test solutions to integrate into their product offerings. “Most private network deployments in Germany are essentially sales-driven and only a few deployments are really used to enhance enterprise workflows and operations. The fact that these sales-driven activities dominate the number of private networks in Germany is yet another warning sign that enterprise 5G still has a long way to go,” explains Leo Gergs, Senior Analyst for Private Networks and Enterprise Connectivity at ABI Research.
The slow growth of private networks shows there is critical need to act now, as the window of opportunity for enterprise 5G is closing. Enterprises are eagerly waiting for the 5G capabilities that they have been promised for more than 3 years. “As these enterprises realize that full support for URLLc and time-sensitive networking will still take years to mature, they are becoming growingly impatient and starting to look at technology alternatives,” Gergs says.
To successfully target the immense enterprise private network opportunity, the telco industry needs to radically rethink their approach. The industry needs to embrace spectrum liberalization initiatives and consider flexible business models that can be adjusted to address heterogenous enterprise requirements. According to Gergs, “The telco industry must realize that the value proposition for enterprise 5G does not lie in the technology as such, but in the applications it enables. After all, no enterprise cares about whether they deploy 4G or 5G on their premises, as long as the technology solves their pain points.”
Spectrum liberalization initiatives, which allow enterprises access to license or share mobile network spectrum without having to go through a traditional mobile network operator, can act as an important enabler in this context and the fact that more and more of these initiatives are being implemented shows regulators’ willingness to create favorable conditions. “However, regulators can only do part of the job. It is now up to CSPs, infrastructure vendors, chipset manufacturers, and System Integrators to accept their responsibility and deliver on what enterprises have been promised from the beginning,” Gergs concludes.
These findings are from ABI Research’s Shared Spectrum and Private Networks Tracker market data report. This report is part of the company’s 5G Markets research service, which includes research, data, and analyst insights. Market Data spreadsheets are composed of deep data, market share analysis, and highly segmented, service-specific forecasts to provide detailed insight where opportunities lie.
Update from SDxCentral on 24 August 2021: Operators Confront Souring (5G) Private Networks Position:
The Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) earlier this month said at least 370 companies globally have been or are investing in private mobile networks, but notes LTE still accounts for the majority of deployments.
Expectations for private enterprise 5G networks remain high among many analysts and industry associations, but the relatively tepid pace of adoption thus far merits some challenges and concern.
One of the core challenges is that every enterprise is unique, and “one size does not fit all,” Chris Pearson, president at 5G Americas, wrote in a recent blog post. “For potential private wireless network operators, a key item to understand is the sheer complexity and magnitude of the task,” he explained, adding that identity management, authentication, onboarding, authorization, policy definition and enforcement, and security must all be taken into consideration.
Nonetheless, Pearson remains optimistic about the outlook for private 5G networks, as he highlighted a recent report from Polaris Market Research that projects the private 5G networks market to reach $13.92 billion by 2028, representing a nearly 41% compound annual growth rate.
Private Networks Don’t Require Operator Involvement
Mobile network operators’ role in private networks also remains an ongoing debate. Private network vendors like Celona argue there’s no need for network operators to be involved as long as private spectrum options are available. Many radio access network (RAN) vendors have also proven as much, highlighting private network deployments that don’t involve a traditional network operator, but haven’t publicly acknowledged this detail as forcefully.
Wireless operators are encountering the same roadblocks in private 5G that they previously confronted with managed WiFi services, Özer Dondurmacıoğlu, VP of marketing at Celona, told SDxCentral in a phone interview.
“They’ve tried to do it with their existing radio vendors, they’ve tried to piecemeal it with some mobile core software and some provisioning service, they tried to create their managed services portal to support a model to get it up and running, but it takes time, it takes a lot effort,” he said.
Private networks should be integrated into an existing enterprise environment, much like wired LAN or SDN, and as such, Celona’s framework is akin to cloud networking for private 4G LTE and 5G, Dondurmacıoğlu said.
“I think [mobile operators] overpromised. Enterprises are just much more practical in their thinking,” he said. “They don’t have the patience when operators tell them the world is going to be great and you’re going to get one-millisecond latency and everything is going to be perfect for the last three years.”
One of the findings of a new report from Light Reading sister company Omdia: 2022 Trends to Watch: Private Networks and the Shadow of 5G:
More than 90% of enterprises that are looking to deploy a private network in the next two years are considering 5G as the main technology for their deployments.
Pablo Tomasi, principal analyst of private networks in Omdia’s service provider enterprise and wholesale practice – and the report’s author – nonetheless warned CSPs it won’t all be plain sailing.
While the “hype of 5G” will get CSPs in the door with enterprises, he said, they’ve still got it all to prove in terms of delivery and meeting enterprises’ expectations.
“CSPs have many challenges that they need to face to make an impact in this market,” Tomasi told Light Reading. “Among others, they need to stop talking about 5G as the fix to solve all problems and start talking about addressing an enterprise pain-point with a solution based on whatever technology is more suitable.”
Tomasi emphasized that CSPs should be pragmatic in their technology recommendations, whether it be private LTE or private 5G, or even an alternative technology.
“They also need to accelerate their investment in their private networks teams and decide how they want to gain vertical expertise, which is essential for targeting vertical markets,” said Tomasi.
CSPs, he said, will have to weigh up the pros and cons of an in-house versus a partnership approach to build up private-network teams with the necessary know-how.
Although none of the enterprises currently surveyed by Omdia have deployed private networks to cover more than 10 sites, Tomasi thinks this will change in the next couple of years with 6% of enterprises aiming to deploy in more than 11 sites.
Enterprises currently prefer private network deployments that are fully dedicated, both in the RAN and the core, but Tomasi observes a “clear shift” in enterprises’ planning towards hybrid solutions involving a mixture of private and public networks.
“This plays directly into the hands of the CSPs that are increasingly deploying and expanding their private 5G networks,” said Tomasi, “but CSPs must ride this trend carefully as their first order of business is still gaining the trust of the enterprise and of the [wider] ecosystem.”
How successful CSPs might be in the private network space is not entirely in their own hands. Awarding highly localized spectrum to enterprises – a trend already seen in Germany – poses a “significant threat” to CSPs in Tomasi’s view.
“Spectrum liberalization is dangerous for [CSPs], because if providing spectrum to the enterprise works then regulators all over the world will be encouraged to continue this trend.” Tomasi told Light Reading.
“This will affect how much spectrum will be available for CSPs as well as the ability for other players, such as vendors and system integrators. to directly serve enterprises’ connectivity needs.”
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