Ericsson on Friday reported lower than expected 4th-quarter core earnings as sales of 5G equipment slowed in high-margin markets such as the United States, sending the Swedish company’s shares to their lowest since 2018.
Ericsson is the latest tech company to show the impact of customers tightening belts amid concerns about a global economic slowdown. Others have been cutting staff, including Microsoft (10,000) and Google parent Alphabet (12,000) which have announced thousands of job cuts this week while Amazon had announce 10,000 layoffs several weeks ago.
Ericsson has already announced plans to cut costs by 9 billion crowns ($880 million) by the end of 2023.
Chief Financial Officer Carl Mellander told Reuters that would involve reducing consultants, real estate and also employee headcount. “It’s different from geography to geography, some are starting now, and we’ll take it unit by unit, considering the labour laws of different countries,” Mellander said, referring to the cuts.
Mellander declined to say if the job cuts would be similar to 2017 when Ericsson laid off thousands of employees and focused on research to return the company to profitability.
Last week, the company said it would book a 2.3 billion Swedish crown ($220 million) provision for an expected fine from U.S. authorities for breach of a settlement reached in 2019.
Ericsson’s net sales rose in the fourth quarter, but margins, net income and core earnings fell. Its gross margin for the fourth quarter of 2022 fell to 41.4% from 43.2%.
Ericsson said it expected a fall in margin in its Networks business to persist through the first half of 2023, but the effect of cost savings to emerge in the second quarter.
JPMorgan analysts said given the fall in margins and higher investments, they would expect 2023 earnings to decline by a double digit percentage.
Inge Heydorn, partner and fund manager at investment firm GP Bullhound, said: “The fourth quarter shows once again that the U.S. has a big impact on Ericsson’s margins.”
With U.S. customers such as Verizon tightening their purse strings, Ericsson is hoping newer markets such as India can provide some growth. Its South East Asia, Oceania and India market was the only one to grow in the quarter, rising 21%, accounting for 13% of the company’s business.
The company’s fourth-quarter adjusted operating earnings, excluding restructuring charges, fell to 9.3 billion Swedish crowns from 12.8 billion a year earlier. That was short of the 11.22 billion expected by analysts, Refinitiv Eikon data showed. Net sales rose 21% to 86 billion crowns, beating estimates of 84.2 billion.
A settlement of a patent deal with Apple (AAPL.O) last month resulted in revenue of 6 billion crowns, but Ericsson also took 4 billion crowns in charges, including a provision for a potential fine from U.S. regulators and divestments.
However, there was some good news.
- Ericsson said it expects significant patent revenue growth over the coming 18-24 months.
- Ericsson, outside China, remains the company to beat in 5G. Its share of the market for radio access networks (RANs) appears to have increased several years in a row – from 33% in 2017 to 39% now.
- Ericsson is healthily profitable, which could not be said when CEO Ekholm took charge in 2017.
- Boosted by recent takeover activity and a major licensing deal with Apple, its headline sales for the final quarter of 2022 were up 21%, to 86 billion Swedish kronor (US$8.4 billion), compared with the same period a year before.
However, Ericsson has experienced one of its biggest profit slumps since the first half of Ekholm’s tenure. Hurt by higher costs and SEK4 billion ($390 million) worth of one-off charges – relating to US fines, write-downs and divestiture – its net income dropped by 39%, to SEK6.2 billion ($600 billion). Worse, all the various profit margins thinned, with Ericsson’s closely monitored EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) margin shrinking to just 9.1%, from 16.1% a year earlier. And the outlook is frosty.
The mini-boom in 5G spending appears to be over – temporarily, at least. Last year, the market for RAN products, where Ericsson now generates about 70% of its revenues, grew by around 5%, according to data from Dell’Oro, a market research firm that Ericsson uses. This year, RAN market sales are expected to fall by 1%. And in North America, responsible for nearly 30% of Ericsson’s overall revenues, Dell’Oro predicts they will drop by a worrying 7%.
After investing heavily in network rollouts during the last couple of years, many operators are cutting their expenditure amid signs of an economic downturn, and reducing the equipment stockpiles they built up when supplies were tight. “We expect operators to adjust inventory levels as the supply situation eases and we plan for these trends to continue during the first half of 2023,” said Ekholm on Ericsson’s earnings call today.
“The first half is really where we’ll see the sizeable inventory adjustments,” said Ekholm, answering questions asked by analysts. “Operators can sweat assets for a couple of quarters but it cannot be done much more [than that] because of the traffic growth underneath. That is the way to model it.” Ericsson’s expectation is that total mobile data traffic worldwide will grow by a factor of five between 2022 and 2028.
Given the market slowdown, turbulence of the last year and seemingly endless difficulties at smaller units, it is easy to forget that Ericsson remains a solid and successful business. But it has become more reliant on RAN sales under Ekholm – generating more than 70% of its revenues in that market last year, compared with just 47% in 2016. Ekholm clearly restored Ericsson’s reputation as a RAN provider. Amid the slowdown in that sector (zero growth forecast by Dell’Oro through 2027), his big challenge now is to prove it can thrive elsewhere.
Andrew Gardiner, analyst at Citi, said the announcements demonstrated the “significant challenges” the company faced this year. “We view Ericsson’s outlook as one of fundamentals deteriorating in the next quarter or two, as it aims to improve in the second half and beyond,” he added.
According to a newly published forecast report by Dell’Oro Group, after four years of extraordinary growth that propelled the radio access network (RAN) market to reach new record levels, the RAN market is now transitioning from the expansion phase to the next phase in this 5G journey with more challenging comparisons and slower growth.
“It is still early days in the 5G journey but at the same time, the coverage and capacity phases that have shaped the capex cycles with previous technology generations still hold,” said Stefan Pongratz Vice President and analyst with the Dell’Oro Group. “Still, even with the expected changes in capital intensities as the operators reach their initial 5G coverage targets, the plethora of 5G frequencies taken together with the upside from FWA and eventually private 5G, will curb the peak-to-trough decline relative to 2G-4G,” continued Pongratz.
Editor’s Note: In December, Ericsson said it expects the RAN market to be flat with 5G build-out still in its early days.
Additional highlights from the Mobile RAN 5-Year January 2023 Forecast Report:
- Global RAN is projected to grow at a zero percent CAGR outside of China by 2027. See chart below.
- The less advanced MBB regions are expected to grow while RAN investments in both China and North America are expected to decline at mid-single digit CAGRs over the forecast period.
- 5G RAN is expected to grow another 25 percent to 30 percent by 2027, though this will barely be enough to offset steep declines in LTE.
- mmWave projections have been revised downward over the near term and upward in the outer part of the forecast to reflect the potential upside with higher EIRP solutions.
- Small cell RAN revenue growth has been outpacing macros for some time now and these trends are expected to extend throughout the forecast period, with small cell RAN revenues growing more than 20 percent by 2027.
Dell’Oro Group’s Mobile RAN 5-Year Forecast Report offers a complete overview of the Mobile RAN industry 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 6 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 by email at [email protected].
Dell’Oro Group is a market research firm that specializes in strategic competitive analysis in the telecommunications, security, enterprise networks, and data center infrastructure markets. Our firm provides in-depth quantitative data and qualitative analysis to facilitate critical, fact-based business decisions. For more information, contact Dell’Oro Group at +1.650.622.9400 or visit www.delloro.com
With its new report “The Market for 5G RAN in Europe: Share of Chinese and Non-Chinese Vendors in 31 European Countries,” Strand Consult brings valuable evidence of the location, amount, and share of Chinese and non-Chinese equipment in European telecom networks. This report, the second of its kind, describes the respective amounts of 5G equipment from Huawei, ZTE, and non-Chinese vendors in European mobile networks and the share of such in equipment in the 5G Radio Access Network (RAN). Here are the highlights from the new report.
- There is little transparency about the amount, type, location, and share of 4G and 5G Chinese equipment in European networks.
- In 8 of 31 countries, more than 50% of the 5G RAN equipment comes from Chinese vendors. In 2020, it was 16 of 31 countries in which the 4G RAN equipment came from Chinese vendors.
- In one country, 100% of the 5G RAN comes from Chinese vendors. In 2020 there were 3 European countries with 100% 4G RAN equipment from Chinese vendors.
- Only 11 of 31 European countries can offer their users access to clean, non-Chinese networks.
- 41% of the mobile subscribers in Europe have access to 5G RAN from Chinese vendors. In 2020, 51% of European mobile subscribers had access to 4G RAN from Chinese vendors.
- The large European countries–Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Austria, and Spain–purchase significant amounts of 5G equipment from Chinese vendors.
- Operators like Telenor and Telia in Norway, TDC in Denmark, 3 in Denmark and Sweden, T-Mobile Nederland’s, and Proximus in Belgium have switched out Chinese suppliers. None of those operators report increased networks cost or delay in 5G rollout.
- The data suggests that Germany appears not to take the security threat of China seriously. Nord Stream 2 was Germany’s debacle oil energy supplies from Russia; it appears that Germany sets up a similar scenario in the communications domain with Huawei and ZTE.
- As Germany accounts for 25% of European mobile customers, the German government’s lax approach to communications infrastructure creates a risk for Germany and all people who interconnect with German networks.
- Germany together with Italy, Poland, and Austria, comprise 50% of European mobile customers. These countries are heavily dependent on Chinese equipment, creating risk for their own nations and others which use their networks.
- In 2020, 57% of Germany’s 4G RAN came from Chinese vendors. In 2022, 59% of the 5G RAN in Germany comes from Chinese vendors.
- Huawei enjoys a higher market share in Berlin than in Beijing where it shares the market with ZTE and other vendors.
- US General Darryl A. Williams serves as the commanding general of the United States Army Europe and Africa (based in Wiesbaden, German) and commander of the Allied Land Command. He oversees more than 20,000 staff. Unwittingly when he uses a commercial mobile phone, the traffic is sent through a network built with Chinese equipment. Similarly when American military use their personal devices, they engage on a Chinese network at risk for intrusion.
Strand Consult’s report delivers detailed information about Chinese and non-Chinese network equipment in Europe at country level. The report highlights of the importance of the EU’s 5G toolbox and provides recommendations to improve its implementation. The toolbox applies to most of Europe’s 102 mobile operators across 31 countries serving some 673 million mobile customers. The report also provides valuable economic context to understand the market for RAN equipment.
The focus on 5G and 4G RAN reflects the shift of the security debate. There is consensus across most countries outside China that equipment provided by vendors owned and affiliated with the Chinese government and military poses unacceptable risk for the security and integrity of the core of the network. The discussion has evolved to whether and to what degree should such vendors be allowed to supply the RAN.
The 4G RANs studied in the 2020 report were purchased in the 12-year period of 2008-2020. Most of RANs were delivered and installed during 2009-2016 when operators upgraded their 2G and 3G networks to 4G networks. The main part of the 5G RAN was purchased, delivered, and installed after 2020.
When performing a financial analysis of the cost of restricting Huawei, one must consider that network upgrades will happen regardless of selection of vendor. There is a sunk cost to network upgrades which must be subtracted from the total cost of using a Chinese vendor.
Despite the widespread knowledge of the threat associated with using Chinese equipment, some of Europe’s largest operators have purchased and deployed Chinese 5G equipment in their networks after 2020. That decision could have major consequences for their shareholders if Europe’s policymakers conclude that it is not smart to depend on Chinese telecommunications infrastructure in the same way as it did for Russian gas.
The report is valuable for mobile operators and their shareholders, communications policymakers, security and defense analysts, network engineers, and other professionals in the field. Contact Strand Consult today to get your free copy of the report “The Market for 5G RAN in Europe: Share of Chinese and Non-Chinese Vendors in 31 European Countries.”
Ericsson is planning for a flat RAN market and is structuring its cost base and operations accordingly. Underlying the flat market is a technology shift to 5G from earlier generation. 5G build-out is still in its early days with only about 20% of all base station sites outside China installed with 5G mid-band. Because 5G is still in its early days, vendors like Ericsson and Nokia are seeing lower margins. Therefore, they are relying more heavily on patent royalties to boost profits. Because 5G is still in its early days, vendors like Ericsson and Nokia are seeing lower margins. Therefore, they are relying more heavily on patent royalties to boost profits.
Given the rapid increase in network traffic levels, operators’ investment in performance and capacity is expected to remain robust. The 5G RAN market is expected to grow by over 11% per annum over the next three years, with potential further upside from areas such as Fixed Wireless Access, Enterprise connectivity, XR and Mission Critical Services (which require URLLC which meets performance requirements in ITU M.2410).
In Networks, Ericsson expects to expand its global footprint and enhance gross income through continued investments in technology for performance and cost leadership and, in addition, improve productivity and capital efficiency across the supply chain. In particular the Segment will continue investing in enhanced portfolio energy performance, enabled by Ericsson Silicon and innovating next-generation open architecture, such as Cloud RAN – key areas of strategic importance for its operator customers. Cloud RAN also offers potential in the enterprise segment.
Separately, Morgan Stanley analysts forecast that the U.S. wireless industry growth will slow in 2023.
“Carriers could move to cut pricing in order to maintain their subscriber bases,” the Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a report to investors issued Thursday. That could reduce the operators’ ability to make money, they noted. “A continued adoption of premium plans could also support wireless service revenue growth,” they added.
Morgan Stanley analysts expect the U.S. wireless industry – including Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Dish Network and cable companies like Comcast and Charter Communications – to collectively add 8.7 million new postpaid phone customers during 2023. That’s down only slightly from 8.9 million during 2022 and just below the record 10 million that providers collectively added over the course of 2021.
“We see the biggest slowdown in 2023 adds at AT&T, while Verizon could grow adds modestly yoy [year over year] off a low base, and T-Mobile can do slightly better given this year saw the impact of the Sprint network shutdown,” the Morgan Stanley analysts wrote. “We will be watching the growing deployment of eSIM technology to see if it opens the door to higher switching activity, while it should also help carriers lower costs through an easier activation process.”
In contrast to Dell’Oro Group’s assessment of the RAN market, Light Counting says that the wireless infrastructure market grew QoQ and YoY but at a slower pace than in the past 2 years. In addition, global sales were affected by supply chain issues that created logistical nightmares and led to increase in network node average sales prices.
This environment is divided into two spheres of influence, China versus the West and its allies. Both Ericsson and Nokia gained market share at the expense of Huawei and ZTE in 4Q21:
–>Ericsson moved into the #1 position, Huawei dropped to #2, Nokia came back to #3 while ZTE slipped to #4; although Samsung gained share, it was not enough to surpass ZTE. Note that Dell’Oro still has Huawei as #1.
For the full year, Ericsson finished neck and neck with Huawei with just 1 percentage point separating the 2 vendors. “In 4Q21, the wireless infrastructure market equilibrium reached and reported last quarter was on full display: the 2 opposite spheres of influence were fully balanced. As a result, the 2 respective markets reached roughly the same size and Ericsson closed the market share gap with Huawei. 2021 was a reset year that signaled a return to normalcy with a market peak in 2022,” said Stéphane Téral, Chief Analyst at LightCounting Market Research.
After this year’s peak, our model points to a slow single-digit declining market. This bell-shaped pattern reflects the differences in regional and national agendas, including the COVID-19 impact as well as the impact of “the 2-year step function”—2 years (2019 and 2020) in a row of double-digit growth. The model considers all the 5G 3-year rollout plans we have gathered from many service providers and indicates strong activity through 2022 and 2023.
About the report:
Wireless Infrastructure quarterly report analyzes the wireless infrastructure market worldwide and covers 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G radio access network (RAN) and core network nodes. It presents historical data from 2016 to 2021, on quarterly market size and vendor market shares, and a detailed market forecast through 2027 for 2G/3G/4G/5G RAN, including open vRAN, and core networks (EPC, vEPC, and 5GC), in over 10 product categories for each region (North America, Europe, Middle East Africa, Asia Pacific, Caribbean Latin America).
The historical data accounts for the sales of more than 30 wireless infrastructure vendors, including vendors that shared confidential sales data with LightCounting. The market forecast is based on a model correlating wireless infrastructure vendor sales with 20 years of service provider network rollout pattern analysis and upgrade and expansion plans.
For more information about the market report go to LightCounting.com or email us at [email protected]
- Global RAN rankings did not change with Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia, ZTE, and Samsung leading the full year 2021 market.
- Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei, and Samsung lead outside of China while Huawei and ZTE continue to dominate the Chinese RAN market.
- RAN revenue shares are changing with Ericsson and Samsung gaining share outside of China.
- Huawei and Nokia’s RAN revenue shares declined outside of China.
- Relative near-term projections have been revised upward – total RAN revenues are now projected to grow 5 percent in 2022.
Open RAN Market – Highlights
- While 5G offers superior performance over 4G, both will coexist comfortably into the 2030s as the bedrock of next-generation mobile networks. There are three perspectives that help to underline this point. Firstly, unlike voice-oriented 2G and 3G (which were primarily circuit-switched networks with varying attempts to accommodate packet-switching principles), 4G is a fully packet-switched network optimized for data services. 5G builds on this packet switching capability. Therefore, 4G and 5G networks can coexist for a long while because the transition from 4G to 5G does not imply or require a paradigm shift in the philosophy of the underlying technology. 5G is expected to dominate the OPEN RAN market with $22B TAM in 2030 with a growth rate of 52% as compared to a 4G growth rate of 31% between 2022 and 2030
- Within OPEN RAN radio unit (RU), Small cells and macrocells are likely to contribute $7.5B and $2.4B TAM by 2030 respectively. It is going to be a huge growth of 46% from the current market size of $327M for such cells in the OPEN RAN market
- The sub-6GHz frequency band is going to lead the market with a 70% share for OPEN RAN although the mmWave frequency band will have a higher CAGR of 67% as compared to 37% CAGR of Sub-6GHz. Most focus has been on the 3.5 GHz range (i.e., 3.3-3.8 GHz) to support initial 5G launches, followed by mmWave awards in the 26 GHz and 28 GHz bands. In the longer term, about 6GHz of total bandwidth is expected for each country across two to three different bands
- Enterprises are adopting network technologies such as private 5G networks and small cells at a rapid rate to meet business-critical requirements. That’s why public OPEN RAN is expected to have the majority share of round ~95% as compared to the small market for the private segment
- At present, it is relatively easy for greenfield service providers to adopt 5G open RAN interfaces and architectures and it is extremely difficult for brownfield operators who have already widely deployed 4G. One of the main challenges for brownfield operators is the lack of interoperability available when using legacy RAN interfaces with an open RAN solution. Still, Mobile network operators (MNOs) throughout the world, including many brownfield networks, are now trialling and deploying Open RAN and this trend is expected to grow with time to have a larger share of brownfield deployments
- Asia Pacific is expected to dominate the OPEN RAN market with nearly 35% share in 2030. OPEN RAN market in the Asia Pacific is expected to reach USD 11.5 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 34% between 2022 and 2030. Japan is going to drive this market in the Asia Pacific although China will emerge as a leader in this region by 2030. North America and Europe are expected to have a higher growth rate of more than 45% although their share will be around 31% and 26% respectively in 2030
According to a new report from analyst firm Mobile Experts, Ericsson leapt into the #1 position in the RAN market for 2021. Ericsson (see Table 1. at bottom of this article), which achieved a 26.9% share of a market that grew by about 3% in value to be worth in the region of $45 billion last year.
Sanctions hit Huawei very hard as the Chinese tech giant dropped to third place in the RAN market in terms of the value of sales with a 20.4% market share. Huawei had a shortfall of roughly $4B last year due to the company’s inability to produce high-capacity TDD base stations. That was because of U.S. Government sanctions on the critical components needed. As a result, Huawei achieved much lower dollar value than their western competitors.
Nokia (21.9% market share) placed third while ZTE achieved fourth place (14.5%) ahead of Samsung (8% market share).
“Our approach to forecasting is deeply analytical, using data from more than 100 sources, rather than simply the inputs of five OEMs. Our approach works. This analyst team has been creating some of the most accurate, detailed forecasting on the market for over a decade,” commented Chief Analyst of Mobile Experts, Joe Madden. “We have developed relationships with suppliers, operators, and vendors that give us data for a three-pronged approach to triangulation on mobile infrastructure revenue.”
Mobile Experts’ models show the RAN market growing at a CAGR (Cumulative Annualized Growth Rate) of 3%, with -1% growth in macro base stations and 25%-35% growth in millimeter wave and software segments. The analyst firm, known for their unmatched accuracy, leverage over a decade of ear-to-ground experience in this market to present this detailed market forecast that presents last year’s findings concisely and completely as well as presenting what’s next for the RAN market and its players.
“Overall, the RAN market is looking up. After 30 years of boom-and-bust cycles, the market is currently reaching a peak with 5G deployment in its active mode this year. In coming years, we see new revenue coming in from private enterprises to offset the natural drop in CSP sales; specifically, the private LTE/5G market will grow by 19%, accounting for more than $4 billion in 2026. As a result, the total RAN market will remain near its 5G peak for a few years, with the possibility for growth in the longer term,” commented Chief Analyst Joe Madden.
Total Year Review for 2021 – Global RAN Revenue:
This pre-earnings report offers a comprehensive overview of the RAN market with Mobile Experts’ signature accuracy and detailed breakdowns. This quarter’s report includes revenue estimates for the top 25 vendors in the RAN market for 2021. This is the first of a series of quarterly updates, and it is available today for instant download with purchase at www.mobile-experts.net.
For more about this research and buy the report, click here.
About Mobile Experts Inc.:
Mobile Experts provides insightful market analysis for the mobile infrastructure and mobile handset markets. Our analysts are true Experts, who remain focused on topics where each analyst has 25 years of experience or more. Research topics center on technology introduction for radio frequency (RF) and communications innovation. Recent publications include: RAN Revenue, Cellular V2X, Fixed Mobile Convergence, Edge Computing, In-Building Wireless, CIoT, URLLC, Macro Base Station Transceivers, Small Cells, VRAN, and Private LTE.
Table 1: Ericsson’s headline figures (Swedish Krona-SEK billions)
|Research and development expenses||-42.1||-39.7||–|
|Selling and administrative expenses||-27.0||-26.7||–|
|Impairment losses on trade receivables||0.0||0.1||-134%|
|Other operating income and expenses||0.4||0.7||-45%|
|Share in earnings of JV and associated companies||-0.3||-0.3||–|
|– of which networks||37.3||30.9||21%|
|– of which digital services||-3.6||-2.2||–|
|– of which managed services||1.5||1.6||-6%|
|– of which emerging business and other||-3.4||-2.4||–|
|Financial income and expenses, net||-2.5||-0.6||–|
Dell’Oro Group has once again upgraded its forecast for the total RAN market, now projecting it to grow 10-15% this year. As expected, Huawei and ZTE are gaining market share in China, while Ericsson and Nokia are gaining everywhere else. Ericsson and Samsung increased their RAN revenue outside of China.
“The underlying long-term growth drivers have not changed and continue reflect the shift from 4G to 5G, new FWA (Fixed Wireless Access) and enterprise capex, and the transitions towards active antenna systems,” said Stefan Pongratz, Vice President and analyst with the Dell’Oro Group. “At the same time, a string of indicators suggest this output acceleration is still largely driven by the shift from 4G to 5G, which continued at a torrid pace in the quarter (but only for the RAN; not for the 5G SA core network), even as LTE surprised on the upside,” continued Pongratz.
“With the improved outcome in Latin America, we estimate that four out of the six regions we track increased at a double-digit rate in the second quarter,” Stefan said via email. He was kind enough to send me these charts:
Additional highlights from Dell’Oro’s 2Q 2021 RAN report:
- RAN rankings did not change – Huawei and ZTE were the No.1 and No.2 suppliers in China while Ericsson and Nokia maintained their No.1 and No.2 positions outside of China.
- Revenue shares changed slightly – preliminary estimates suggest Ericsson and Samsung recorded revenue share gains outside of China, while Huawei and ZTE improved their positions in China.
- The combined share of the smaller RAN suppliers, excluding the top five vendors, improved by ~1% between 2020 and the first half of 2021, in part as a result of the ongoing Open RAN greenfield deployments in Japan and the U.S. “It’s all relative and it will take some time before open RAN moves the needle,” Pongrantz said.
- The RAN market remains on track for a fourth consecutive year of growth. The short-term outlook has been revised upward – total RAN is now projected to advance 10 to 15% in 2021.
Dell’Oro Group’s RAN Quarterly Report offers a complete overview of the RAN industry, with tables covering manufacturers’ revenue, transceiver, macro cell, small cell BTS shipments, and Open RAN for 5G NR Millimeter Wave, 5G NR Sub 6 GHz, and LTE. The report tracks the RAN market by region and includes market data for Massive MIMO. The report also includes a four-quarter outlook.
- Segments: LTE, Sub 6 GHz 5G NR, Millimeter Wave 5G NR, Massive MIMO, Macro Cell, Small Cell, Open RAN
- Regions: North America, Europe, Middle East & Africa, Asia Pacific, China and CALA (Caribbean and Latin America)
To purchase this report, please contact: [email protected]
Separately, Dell’Oro Group says that the demand for Microwave Transmission equipment grew 11% year-over-year in the first half of 2021, driven by LTE and 5G. In that period, microwave revenue from mobile backhaul application grew 16 percent.
“The Microwave Transmission market is recovering from the decline caused by the spread of COVID-19 as evidenced by the strong growth in the first half of 2021,” stated Jimmy Yu, Vice President at Dell’Oro Group. “Almost all of the vendors in this industry are benefiting from the improving mobile backhaul market, especially the top vendors. Since demand is rising, each vendor’s performance this year will come down to how well they navigate the supply issues created by the pandemic and semiconductor shortages,” added Yu.
Highlights from the 2Q 2021 Quarterly Report:
- All regions contributed to the positive market growth this quarter with the exception of Latin America. Latin America declined year-over-year for a ninth consecutive quarter, shrinking to its lowest quarterly revenue level that we have on record.
- The top three vendors in the quarter continued to be Huawei, Ericsson, and Nokia. In 2Q 2021, Huawei regained most of the market share lost in the previous quarter and returned to holding a 10 percentage point lead over Ericsson.
- E/V Band revenue growth remained positive for another consecutive quarter and held its double-digit year-over-year growth rate.
The Dell’Oro Group Microwave Transmission & Mobile Backhaul Quarterly Report offers complete, in-depth coverage of the market with tables covering manufacturers’ revenue, ports/radio transceivers shipped, and average selling prices by capacities (low, high and E/V Band). The report tracks point-to-point TDM, Packet, and Hybrid Microwave as well as full indoor and full outdoor unit configurations.
The following markets are covered in the report:
- TDM, Packet, and Hybrid Microwave
- Microwave Transmission by Application: Mobile Backhaul and Verticals
- Split mount units, Full indoor units, and full outdoor units
- E/V Band systems
To purchase this report, please contact [email protected]
According to a recently published report from Dell’Oro Group, preliminary estimates suggest that the 2G-5G radio access network (RAN) market ended the year 2020 on a high note, with the full year 2020 revenues marking a new record since we started tracking the program in the year 2000.
“While we correctly identified the overall trajectory of the market going into the year and maintained the positive outlook even as the pandemic intensified and economists adjusted their GDP projections sharply downward,” said Stefan Pongratz, Vice President and analyst with the Dell’Oro Group. “We also need to recognize that we completely underestimated the magnitude and the breadth of the ascent in the fourth quarter and for the full year 2020, reflecting stronger than expected results in multiple regions,” Pongratz added.
Additional highlights from the 4Q 2020 RAN report:
- Initial estimates suggest that vendor rankings remained stable between 2019 and 2020, while revenue shares were impacted to some degree by the state of the 5G rollouts in China and North America.
- Ericsson and Nokia maintained their No. 1 and No. 2 RAN revenues rankings excluding China. Both suppliers improved their RAN revenue shares outside of China, accounting for 35 percent to 40 percent and 25 percent to 30 percent of the overall RAN market, respectively.
- Huawei maintained its No. 1 ranking for the global RAN market, reflecting share gains in China.
Dell’Oro Group’s RAN Quarterly Report offers a complete overview of the RAN industry, with tables covering manufacturers’ revenue, transceivers or RF carrier shipments, macro cell and small cell BTS shipments for 5G NR Millimeter Wave, 5G NR Sub 6 GHz, and LTE. The report tracks the RAN market by region and includes market data for Massive MIMO. The report also includes a four-quarter outlook. To purchase this report, please contact us by email at [email protected].
In December 2020, Dell’Oro forecast the overall RAN market to advance for a fourth consecutive year in 2021. In North America, low-band activity is expected to remain elevated while mid-band activity is projected to improve. However, the timing of the C-band availability remains uncertain (especially since there was no FCC requirement for C-band spectrum bidders to actually build and deploy cellular networks).
5G core capex should grow at a faster pace than 5G NR (RAN/RIT) revenues. Dell’Oro believes that the 5G Core/5G RAN revenue ratio will trend below historical core/RAN averages in the initial 5G wave and then gradually improve as operators start embracing 5G SA.
Small Cells to Account for 10% to 20% of Total RAN
The global growth outlook for small cells – including sub 6 GHz and mmWave – remains favorable, underpinning projections the technology will play an increasingly important role supporting the overall RAN network as operators and enterprises navigate new technologies, spectrum bands, and use cases.
Small cell RAN revenues are projected to approach 10% to 20% of the overall RAN market in 2021. Within the small cell mix, Sub 6 GHz capex is expected to characterize the lion share of the investments, driven partly by the reduced gap between macro and small cell radios associated with upper mid-band deployments.
Open RAN to Account for 1% to 2% of Total RAN Market in 2021
Open RAN and Virtual RAN continues to gain momentum, bolstered by Ericsson now formalizing its support with its Cloud-RAN announcement. The uptake remains mixed between the various Open RAN segments, as noted with Dell’Oro’s 3Q20 Open RAN update. These trends are expected to extend into 2021, with adoption accelerating in some RAN settings while the uptake remains weak in other RAN segments.
GlobalData, a leading market data and analytics company, has rated Huawei’s LTE RAN portfolio to be a leader in the market. In competitive analyses of five major RAN vendors, GlobalData evaluated 4G LTE base station portfolios according to four key areas important to mobile operators: baseband unit (BBU) capacity, radio unit portfolio breadth, ease of deployment and technological evolution. GlobalData found Huawei to be a Leader in all four categories and a Leader overall among its peers.
Editor’s Note/ Disclaimer:
We don’t know whether Huawei paid Global Data (?) to evaluate 4G LTE vendor portfolios or if that was done indepedently on Global Data’s own initiative. It’s disturbing that we could not find a related report or media press release on the company’s website after doing multiple searches.
LTE RAN Basics: In the RAN, radio sites provide radio access and coordinate the management of resources across the radio sites. User Equipment (e.g. wireless network endpoints) are connected to Nodes (base stations or small cells) using LTE. Radio Network Controllers are wirelessly connected to the core network which for LTE is called the Evolved Packet Core (EPC). This is depicted in the illustration below:
Source: Research Gate
Huawei has introduced new advances in its LTE RAN portfolio to enhance the coverage and capacity of mobile networks. It also offers solutions to aid the coordination of 4G and 5G networks and to enable new services for operators. The Chinese IT behemoth has the highest BBU cell capacity – in terms of both LTE carriers and Narrowband IoT – of any major RAN vendor. It also offers more radio units and more Massive MIMO options than other vendors and supports a wide array of 4G spectrum bands. To make deployment easier, Huawei offers multiple novel solutions, including its Super Blade Site and Bracelet Kit offerings. And to help operators evolve their networks technologically, Huawei has been proactive in commercializing spectrum-sharing capabilities such as its CloudAIR solution, which allows various access technologies (2G/3G/4G/5G) to use the same spectrum, and its SuperBAND solution, which can improve user experience under multi-frequency networks.
This portfolio is well-suited to meet the diverse needs of the world’s mobile operators, and Huawei continues to expand its RAN portfolio to help operators prepare for the future and maximize the value of their LTE networks.
Adequate network coverage is an essential characteristic for ensuring quality mobile services. It becomes especially important in LTE networks as 5G is deployed in high-frequency bands whose coverage footprint areas are more limited. LTE must cover the areas that 5G does not.
To enhance the coverage of 4G/5G networks, Huawei has introduced the Blade Pro solution. The Blade Pro Ultra-Wideband Remote Radio Unit (RRU) is a pole-mountable RU that supports three low or medium Frequency-Division Duplex (FDD) bands simultaneously: it currently supports 700 MHz, 800 MHz and 900 MHz; and in late 2021, it will support 1.8 GHz, 2.1 GHz and 2.6 GHz.
By supporting three frequency bands in a single 25-kilogram unit, the Blade Pro eliminates the need for two boxes, reducing the load on poles, easing the burden on installers and making deployment faster, smoother and less expensive. Making installation easier means operators are better able to increase coverage by expanding or densifying their networks.
Operators face the eternal challenge of keeping up with ever-increasing user demand for data at faster speeds in the space of finite spectrum. One way to add network capacity without finding additional spectrum is to deploy greater antenna arrays, upgrading radios with two transceivers to those with four or eight, for example, or adding Massive MIMO antennas bearing 32 or 64 arrays.
Huawei’s LTE RAN portfolio now includes a radio unit with eight transceivers and receivers for enhanced capacity, useful for urban hotspot areas. The “Smart 8T8R” solution also gives operators flexibility in their migration to 5G. The FDD 8T8R RRU is hardware-ready for 5G NR, and the antenna array is software-defined, meaning its configuration can be adjusted – without changing the hardware – for example, to six sectors for LTE and three sectors for 5G. The solution also dynamically adjusts the power supply allocated to sectors according to how users are distributed. This flexibility can be helpful in allowing operators to serve specific needs on a site-by-site basis and to adapt in real time to changes in user behavior. On TDD side, meanwhile, Huawei leverages its considerable research in TDD-LTE to offer an 8T8R IMB (Intelligent Multi-Beam) solution, which is also based on a software-defined antenna and promises to deliver 1.8-2.2x capacity gains compared with more common products.
For even higher capacity needs, Huawei has introduced the “Smart Massive MIMO” solution, a dual-band 5G-ready 4G radio with 32 transceivers and receivers promising three to five times the download speeds compared with more common products. Like the Smart 8T8R solution, Smart Massive MIMO automatically adjusts the power allocated to individual beams based on user traffic patterns. This lends efficiency in two ways, since Massive MIMO beamforming is itself a more efficient use of mobile spectrum than traditional antenna arrays, and the Smart Massive MIMO solution uses its power supply more efficiently than typical Massive MIMO gear.
In addition to the ways Huawei’s aforementioned gear balances and coordinates 4G and 5G networks, its portfolio also includes other solutions to further optimize the relationship between the two.
Its SuperBAND solution uses artificial intelligence (AI) to aggregate network scheduling – the coordinated allocation of radio resources to mobile signals – among multiple frequency carriers, essentially boosting network capacity beyond the divisions and fragmentation of various spectrum bands. In 4G/5G networks, SuperBAND can perform this aggregation across both 4G and 5G, maximizing spectral efficiency and, ultimately, optimizing the quality of the user experience.
Meanwhile, Huawei also offers Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) as part of its CloudAIR solution. DSS allows 4G and 5G traffic to share the same spectrum bands, increasing spectral usage efficiency; it also allows 4G and 5G traffic to dynamically switch from one band to another, regardless of radio access technology, in response to congestion on specific bands, ensuring the best use of spectrum even as user behavior changes. CloudAIR goes even further, applying a similar spectrum-sharing function to 2G and 3G traffic as well for a more comprehensive capability that is especially relevant to markets where legacy networks remain.
New Service Enablement:
Enhancing and optimizing the network are important aims, but from a commercial perspective, one of the most important imperatives operators face is the need to deliver new revenue-generating services. Huawei’s LTE RAN portfolio addresses this requirement in multiple ways.
Huawei’s Voice-over-LTE solution, VoLTE Plus, helps operators migrate voice traffic from legacy technologies like 2G and 3G to LTE, not only achieving higher quality voice service but also allowing operators to sunset their legacy networks and repurpose their VoLTE investments for the future. In addition, Huawei’s latest VoLTE solution, goes further, adding four new capabilities that help protect the quality of voice service in 4G/5G networks:
- 5G-to-LTE EPS fallback
- LTE-to-5G fast return
- New Enhanced Voice Services capabilities
- Dedicated services that allow for optimization on LTE
Beyond voice, Huawei’s LTE portfolio also supports Narrowband IoT, to capture opportunities in the Internet-of-Things space. The vendor’s roadmap also targets support for 5G NB-IoT in particular, which will allow operators with existing IoT services to migrate those services to their 4G/5G network and replace disparate or ad-hoc legacy networks with a unified network that yields multiple revenue streams from a common infrastructure investment.
Huawei’s portfolio also enables new services via fixed wireless access (FWA) products. Amid the global pandemic, the increase in telecommuting and home-based learning based on video connections has increased the demand for residential broadband networks. Where fiber isn’t available, FWA is vital in building these residential networks. Huawei’s LTE-based FWA solutions have achieved enviable momentum in the market. The vendor has also added 4G/5G customer premises equipment to its portfolio, giving these networks a future-proof migration path to continued service enablement.
Huawei’s LTE RAN portfolio continues to evolve in order to help operators maximize the value of their networks as they prepare for the future. New solutions in the portfolio enhance the coverage and capacity of LTE networks as well as maximize network efficiency by coordinating 4G and 5G operations. Meanwhile, Huawei offers multiple solutions aimed at enabling the delivery of additional services that can help operators grow revenue in a variety of ways, including VoLTE, the Internet of Things and FWA.