According to a new report by Dell’Oro Group, the Radio Access Network (RAN) market is now in a downward trajectory. That’s no surprise to readers of the IEEE Techblog, as we forecasted the “5G train wreck” many years ago and continued the drumbeat due to the scarcity of 5G SA core networks, without which there are NO 5G features/functions. Also that URLLC performance requirements were not met by either the 3GPP Release 16 Enhancements for URLLC in the RAN spec or the ITU M.2150 recommendation which is the official standard for 5G NR.
Following the >40 percent ascent between 2017 and 2021, RAN revenues stabilized in 2022, and are on target to decline sharply in 2023. Market conditions are expected to remain challenging in 2024 as the Indian RAN market pulls back, though the pace of the global decline this year and for the remainder of the forecast period should be more moderate.
“The big picture has not changed. MBB-based investments are now slowing and the upside with new growth areas including FWA and private wireless is still too small to change the trajectory,” said Stefan Pongratz, Vice President at Dell’Oro Group. “Also weighing on the MBB market is the fact that the upper mid-band capacity boost is rather significant relative to current data traffic growth rates in some markets, which could impact the timing for capacity upgrades,” continued Pongratz.
Additional highlights from the Mobile RAN 5-Year January 2024 Forecast Report:
- Worldwide RAN revenues are projected to decline at a 1 percent CAGR over the next five years.
- The Asia Pacific region is expected to lead the decline, while easier comparisons following steep contractions in 2023 will improve the growth prospects in the North America region.
- 5G-Advanced is expected to play an important role in the broader 5G journey, however, it is not expected to fuel another major capex growth cycle.
- RAN segments that are expected to grow over the next five years include: 5G NR, FWA, mmWave, Massive MIMO, Open RAN, private wireless, small cells, and Virtualized RAN.
Dell’Oro said in November said it was optimistic about the long-term growth prospects of the RAN space, but simultaneously noted that after a peak in 2021, RAN revenues will track downwards until the second half of the current decade; overall it predicted a 1% compound annual growth rate between 2020 and 2030. That forecast will now have to be revised DOWN significantly as 6G- the next big RAN mover- won’t be standardized till 2031 at the earliest.
RAN remains a concentrated market, with the top 8 RAN suppliers accounting for more than 98% of the 1Q23-3Q23 RAN market. New technologies, architectures, and segments can in some cases present opportunities for vendors with smaller footprints. Still, the track record for new entrants is far from perfect.
Dell’Oro Group’s Mobile RAN 5-Year Forecast Report offers a complete overview of the RAN market by region – North America, Europe, Middle East & Africa, Asia Pacific, China, and Caribbean & Latin America, with tables covering manufacturers’ revenue and unit shipments for 5GNR, 5G NR Sub 7 GHz, 5G NR mmW and LTE pico, micro, and macro base stations. The report also covers Open RAN, Virtualized RAN, small cells, and Massive MIMO. To purchase this report, please contact us by email at [email protected].
Dell’Oro: RAN market declines at very fast pace while Mobile Core Network returns to growth in Q2-2023