NGMN issues ITU-R framework for IMT-2030 vs ITU-R WP5D Timeline for RIT/SRIT Standardization

The NGMN Alliance has issued the “ITU-R Framework for IMT-2030: Review and Future Direction.” In this essential publication, NGMN welcomes the recent ITU-R report on the ‘Framework and overall objectives of the future development of IMT for 2030 and beyond.’ This ITU-R report ( Recommendation ITU-R M. 2160) sets an important framework for future technology discussions towards 6G.

“Our publication underlines the importance of investment confidence for operators in order to deliver tangible value to customers while ensuring the commercial sustainability of current and future networks,” said Luke Ibbetson, Member of the NGMN Alliance Board and Head of Group R&D at Vodafone. “The capabilities identified for IMT-2030 should be able to be deployed as and when required, without compromising existing core connectivity services, and reflect a customer need that generates new value.”

There is close alignment between NGMN’s vision for 6G and the IMT-2030 framework. This close alignment covers vision, usage scenarios and essential capabilities, particularly related to practical and sustainable deployment and emphasizing harmonised global standards for mobile networks. NGMN goes on to provide recommendations and guidance on ITU-R aspects as it moves forward in the next stage of the IMT-2030 process, including:

  • New features should be able to be deployed as and when required, without compromising existing core connectivity services, which reflect customer needs and generate new values.
  • Evaluation should include interworking of IMT-2030 candidates with non-IMT systems.
  • Reinforcement of the importance of global standards for mobile networks within industry consensus-based standards organisations (e.g., 3GPP).
  • Consideration that advanced features introduced with the IMT-2020 network and/or a new radio interface might be candidates for IMT-2030.
  • Any new radio interface must demonstrate significant benefits over and above IMT-2020 in key metrics such as spectral and/or energy efficiency, overall energy consumption reduction and/or cost advantages.
  • Further work would be beneficial, as input to the process and next steps, to understand the commercial imperative for any extreme requirements of IMT-2030.
  • IMT-2030 should continue to evolve based on IP communications, considering cloud native solutions, disaggregation, and service-based architecture, ensuring both forward and backward compatibility. Support for self-organisation to manage complexity and emerging capabilities.

“This publication provides a realistic evaluation of IMT-2030 technologies”, said Michael Irizarry, Member of the NGMN Alliance Board and Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Engineering and Information Technology, UScellular. “For a new IMT-2030 radio technology to become widely adopted for 6G, it must demonstrate significant benefits across key metrics such as energy efficiency, traffic capacity and cost reduction”.

“We at NGMN look forward to collaborative efforts with the ITU-R and subsequent phases of activity to shape the future of IMT-2030,” said Madam Yuhong Huang, Member of the NGMN Alliance Board and General Manager China Mobile Research Institute. She added, “We hope the industry will prioritize the development needs outlined by NGMN on behalf of its operator members and actively participate in 6G research, contributing novel technologies, unlocking innovative business opportunities, and enabling the sustainable development of the society for the benefit of our customers.” 

Following the NGMN publications “6G Position Statement, an Operator View”, “6G Use Cases and Analysis”, “6G Drivers and Vision” and “6G Requirements and Design Considerations”, this latest publication “Analysis of ITU-R Framework for IMT-2030” marks the next step towards guidance for E2E requirements for 6G.

The publication can be downloaded here.

About NGMN Alliance:

The NGMN Alliance (NGMN) is a forum founded by world-leading Mobile Network Operators and open to all Partners in the mobile industry. Its goal is to ensure that next generation network infrastructure, service platforms and devices will meet the requirements of operators and ultimately will satisfy end user demand and expectations. The vision of NGMN is to provide impactful industry guidance to achieve innovative, sustainable and affordable mobile telecommunication services for the end user with a particular focus on Mastering the Route to Disaggregation / Operating Disaggregated Networks, Green Future Networks and 6G, whilst continuing to support 5G’s full implementation.

NGMN seeks to incorporate the views of all interested stakeholders in the telecommunications industry and is open to three categories of participants/NGMN Partners: Mobile Network Operators (Members), vendors, software companies and other industry players (Contributors), as well as research institutes (Advisors).

Collaboration is key to driving the industry’s most important subjects such as NGMN’s Strategic Focus Topics: Mastering the Route to Disaggregation, Green Future Networks and 6G.  NGMN invites all parties across the entire value chain to join the Alliance in these important endeavors.


At its February 2024 meeting, ITU-R WP 5D produced a working document on the IMT-2030 process for standardization.  The document describes the process and activities identified for the development of the IMT‑2030 terrestrial components radio interface Recommendations.

The time schedule for candidate RITs (Radio Interface Technologies) or SRITs (Set of Radio Interface Technologies is as follows:

Submission of proposals may begin at 54th meeting of Working Party (WP) 5D (currently planned to be 10-17 February 2027) and contribution to the meeting needs to be submitted by 1600 hours UTC, 12 calendar days prior to the start of the meeting.

The final deadline for submissions is 1600 hours Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), 12 calendar days prior to the start of the 59th meeting of WP 5D in February 2029. The evaluation of the proposed RITs and SRITs by the independent evaluation groups and the consensus-building process will be performed throughout this time period and thereafter.


Editor’s Note:  Don’t expect ITU-R M.[IMT-2030.SPECS] recommendation to be approved before sometime in 2031. The detailed specifications of each of IMT-2030 technology is scheduled for completion at ITU-R WP5D meeting #63 in June 2030.  Draft revisions/spec updates are scheduled to be completed at 5D meeting #64 in October 2030.

Just as with 5G/IMT-2020, IMT-2030.SPECS will only cover the 6G RIT/SRIT (radio interfaces).  3GPP will do all the work on the 6G non-radio/systems aspects.


The seven steps in the IMT-2030 standardization process is shown in this Figure:




NGMN publishes ITU-R Framework for IMT-2030: Review and Future Direction

Recommendation ITU-R M. 2160

Draft new ITU-R recommendation (not yet approved): M.[IMT.FRAMEWORK FOR 2030 AND BEYOND]

IEEE 5G/6G Innovation Testbed for developers, researchers and entrepreneurs

WRC-23 concludes with decisions on low-band/mid-band spectrum and 6G (?)

IMT-2030 Technical Performance Requirements (TPR) from ITU-R WP5D

6th Digital China Summit: China to expand its 5G network; 6G R&D via the IMT-2030 (6G) Promotion Group

IMT Vision – Framework and overall objectives of the future development of IMT for 2030 and beyond


OIF Project Highlights: Interoperable 1600ZR+ & Retimed Tx Linear Rx Specs Energy Efficient Interfaces; Common Management Interface Specification (CMIS) Whitepaper

The Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) concluded its Q1 2024 Technical and MA&E meeting in Jacksonville, Florida held January 16-18. The meeting resulted in the initiation of two new projects – the Interoperable 1600ZR+ and Retimed Tx Linear Rx Specs Energy Efficient Interfaces (EEI).  Also, the reelection of the Physical and Link Layer (PLL) Working Group (WG) Chair and a white paper focused on advancing plug and play for Common Management Interface Specification (CMIS) modules. Andrew Schmitt, Cignal AI was a guest speaker.

“OIF’s quarterly membership meetings serve as a vital nexus for industry leaders to converge, collaborate and propel the field forward,” said Nathan Tracy, OIF President and TE Connectivity.

“These meetings are invaluable platforms for members to share insights, discuss and debate ongoing work and launch new projects. The synergy of minds and the shared commitment to innovation in these meetings not only ensures the timely execution of current initiatives but also lays the groundwork for solutions that have a tangible impact on the market now and in the years to come. It is through this collaborative spirit that OIF continues to be a driving force in advancing optical networking standards and technologies, fostering a community that thrives on the exchange of ideas and the collective pursuit of excellence.”


Interoperable 1600ZR+:

The new OIF Interoperable 1600ZR+ project complements the 1600ZR project unveiled last September (2023). Responding to market demand for higher-performance (ZR+) modes, OIF is working towards integrating these modes into its application scope for 1600 Gb/s interfaces.

“OIF recognizes the importance of consolidated requirements in the ZR/ZR+ space to streamline development costs and enhance industry collaboration,” said Karl Gass, OIF PLL WG – Optical Vice Chair. “This project reinforces OIF’s role as the forum for coherent line interface discussions and demonstrates leadership by facilitating the evolution of next-generation technologies.”

Retimed Tx Linear Rx Specs EEI Project:

OIF has launched the Retimed Tx Linear Rx Specs EEI project, focusing on developing specifications for Retimed Tx Linear Rx (RTxLRx). The initial applications target Ethernet and Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML), operating at 200G/lane over 500m single mode fiber (SMF) and 100G/lane over 30m multimode fiber (MMF), with potential for alternate applications. The project aims for full plug and play functionality in both electrical and optical domains, meeting the industry demand for power and latency savings. RTxLRx addresses constraints found in Linear Pluggable Optics (LPO) and provides flexibility, making it a candidate when LPO is not suitable.

“Embracing innovation, OIF maintains its pathfinder role in shaping new optical interface approaches,” said Jeff Hutchins, OIF Board Member and PLL WG – EEI Vice Chair and Ranovus. “Building upon the foundation laid by the ongoing work in the OIF PLL, our commitment extends to expanding the scope, diversity and standards of optical interfaces specified by OIF, ushering in a new era of connectivity and possibilities.”

White Paper: Path to CMIS Plug and Play:

In response to key challenges identified by members, OIF unveiled a white paper project on advancing plug and play for CMIS-managed modules. Feedback has emphasized difficulties in consistently managing modules from different vendors and the need for extensive host development with new module introductions. This white paper will provide practical recommendations to enhance plug and play. It focuses on creating guidelines that empower hosts to manage third-party modules effectively, with the goal of enabling seamless integration of new or unknown modules without requiring host software changes. The proposed guidelines will prioritize simplifying provisioning processes and improving module-to-host integration for enhanced efficiency in optical networking.

“This white paper will enhance the transformative power of CMIS, unveiling its capacity to revolutionize network management and interoperability,” said Ian Alderdice, OIF PLL Working Group – Management Co-Vice Chair and Ciena. “By providing valuable insights, it becomes a beacon guiding the evolution of optical networking standards, paving the way for a future where efficiency and seamless integration define the technological landscape.”

PLL WG Chair: OIF announced the reelection of David Stauffer, Kandou Bus, as PLL WG Chair.

Special Guest Speaker: Andrew Schmitt, Cignal AI:

The Q1 meeting featured guest speaker, Andrew Schmitt from Cignal AI, who shared valuable insights into the latest trends and developments in the optical networking industry. His presentation provided attendees with a comprehensive understanding of the current landscape and future possibilities within the field.

“OIF is an excellent forum for establishing standards on rapidly emerging technologies, and it is well-positioned to tackle the tough problems network operators and their suppliers face,” said Schmitt. “This meeting’s kick off of the 1600ZR+ process – a third generation follow up to the hugely successful 400ZR project – marks a major milestone for the industry. Further increasing the ease of deployment for 400ZR technology via CMIS is also a very valuable endeavor. I’m excited about these OIF initiatives and very pleased to offer Cignal AI’s current perspective on the market to such a capable and effective audience.”


OIF experts will provide valuable insights into the latest trends and developments in power consumption in optical AI networking and 224 Gbps Common Electrical I/O (CEI) at DesignCon 2024, taking place from January 30 to February 1, 2024, in Santa Clara, California.

About OIF:

OIF is where the optical networking industry’s interoperability work gets done. With more than 25 years of effecting forward change in the industry, OIF represents the dynamic ecosystem of 150+ industry leading network operators, system vendors, component vendors and test equipment vendors collaborating to develop interoperable electrical, optical and control solutions that directly impact the industry’s ecosystem and facilitate global connectivity in the open network world.

Editor’s Note:

This author participated in OIF meetings from its Sept 1998 inception till June 2003.  Representing Ciena and NEC, he generated and presented contributions on the optical control plane (aka G.ASON and GMPLS) for SONET/SDH and the OTN.

Connect with OIF on LinkedIn, on X at @OIForum, at


Coherent Optics: Synergistic for telecom, Data Center Interconnect (DCI) and inter-satellite Networks

Ethernet Alliance multi-vendor interoperability demo (10GbE to 800GbE) at OFC 2023

Recon Analytics (x-China) survey reveals that Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung are the top RAN vendors

A Recon Analytics on-line survey results show that Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung are the top RAN vendors not including China.  When the same global operators were asked which vendor had the best overall radio access network (RAN) portfolios, over 50% of respondents named Ericsson and Samsung as the top two. One would’ve expected Nokia to be #2, but the Finland based vendor ended 2023 on a negative trajectory when AT&T announced that it would work with Ericsson to deploy Open RAN equipment in its 5G network and exclude Nokia.

The survey was conducted in October and November, 2023 with 100 global network operators. Each respondent worked at a service provider that sells mobile services. Only one response per operator per country was allowed. Although a multinational operator like Orange France and Orange Belgium would count as two separate responses.

All respondents were required to have one of the following roles when it came to selecting network partners – influencer, budget holder, decision maker or purchaser.

Recon Analytics estimates there are only about 710 live commercial mobile networks in the world. The 100 network operators captured in its survey, represent the meaningful part of the world, according to Roger Entner, founder of Recon Analytics. However, the relatively low sample size results in a margin of error of 9.8%. Entner had earlier opined that “FWA was the 5G killer application.” That despite it is a wireles network configuration – not an application – and it is not one of the ITU-R use cases for 5G (aka IMT 2020).

Communication Service Provider RAN Vendor Insights:

The top three most popular vendors (x-China) currently are Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung, in that order. China was excluded from the survey, so top global RAN vendors Huawei and ZTE were not represented.

When survey respondents were asked which vendors have the best overall RAN portfolio, they named Ericsson, Samsung and Nokia, in that order.

“Ericsson, with the overall highest level of positive responses for being a top three vendor, positions the company well for the future,” said Daryl Schoolar, analyst with Recon Analytics.

Of respondents who said they were currently using Ericsson equipment, 77% said Ericsson had one of the three best portfolios, followed by Samsung at 54%, and Nokia at 49%.  87% of respondents who say they are using Samsung gear list the Japan based vendor as having a top three portfolio.

“While Ericsson’s users don’t list it in their top three at the same frequency as Samsung, 77% is a strong showing and bodes well for its future,” said Schoolar. “Nokia has reason to be concerned as well. While its current users did select it in top three most often among the five vendors shown here, there was little separation between Nokia versus Ericsson and Samsung,” he added.

Meanwhile, Fujitsu and Mavenir (Open RAN only vendor) also scored well as vendors that operators are interested in for the future. Samsung’s top three status is 18 percentage points over its currently used status; Fujitsu’s top three status is 9 percentage points over currently used; and Mavenir’s top three status is 9 percentage points over currently used.


Dell’Oro: RAN revenues declined sharply in 2023 and will remain challenging in 2024; top 8 RAN vendors own the market

Dell’Oro: RAN market declines at very fast pace while Mobile Core Network returns to growth in Q2-2023

Dell’Oro: RAN Market to Decline 1% CAGR; Mobile Core Network growth reduced to 1% CAGR

LightCounting: Open RAN/vRAN market is pausing and regrouping




SNS Telecom & IT: Q1-2024 Public safety LTE/5G report: review of engagements across 86 countries, case studies, spectrum allocation and more

SNS Telecom & IT’s Q1-2024 Public safety LTE/5G report is a significant update from previous versions. The “Public Safety LTE & 5G Market: 2023 – 2030” report features a database of over 1,300 global public safety LTE/5G engagements – as of Q1’2024, in addition to detailed market analysis and forecasts for public safety broadband infrastructure, devices, applications and connectivity services.

Along with other unique content, the report covers a comprehensive review of public safety LTE/5G engagements across 86 countries, detailed case studies of 18 nationwide public safety broadband projects and additional case studies of 50 dedicated, hybrid, secure MVNO/MOCN and commercial operator-supplied systems, public safety spectrum allocation and usage, 3GPP standardization and commercial availability of critical communications-related features, analysis of public safety broadband application scenarios, practical examples of 5G era use cases, ongoing deployments of 3GPP standards-compliant MCX services and interworking functionality for LMR-broadband interoperability, recent advances in 5G NR sidelink-based device-to-device communications capabilities and other trends such as the emergence of portable 5G networks and 5G network slicing services (which require a 5G SA core network) for first responder agencies.

Report Summary:

With the commercial availability of 3GPP-specification compliant MCX (Mission-Critical PTT, Video & Data), HPUE (High-Power User Equipment), IOPS (Isolated Operation for Public Safety) and other critical communications features, LTE and 5G NR (New Radio) networks are increasingly gaining recognition as an all-inclusive public safety communications platform for the delivery of real-time video, high-resolution imagery, multimedia messaging, mobile office/field data applications, location services and mapping, situational awareness, unmanned asset control and other broadband capabilities, as well as MCPTT (Mission-Critical PTT) voice and narrowband data services provided by traditional LMR (Land Mobile Radio) systems. Through ongoing refinements of additional standards – specifically 5G MBS/5MBS (5G Multicast-Broadcast Services), 5G NR sidelink for off-network D2D (Device-to-Device) communications, NTN (Non-Terrestrial Network) integration, and support for lower 5G NR bandwidths – 3GPP networks are eventually expected to be in a position to fully replace legacy LMR systems by the late 2020s. National public safety communications authorities in multiple countries have already expressed a willingness to complete their planned narrowband to broadband transitions within the second half of the 2020 decade.

A myriad of fully dedicated, hybrid government-commercial and secure MVNO/MOCN-based public safety LTE and 5G-ready networks are operational or in the process of being rolled out throughout the globe. The high-profile FirstNet (First Responder Network) and South Korea’s Safe-Net (National Disaster Safety Communications Network) nationwide public safety broadband networks have been successfully implemented. Although Britain’s ESN (Emergency Services Network) project has been hampered by a series of delays, many other national-level programs have made considerable headway in moving from field trials to wider scale deployments – most notably, New Zealand’s NGCC (Next-Generation Critical Communications) public safety network, France’s RRF (Radio Network of the Future), Italy’s public safety LTE service, Spain’s SIRDEE mission-critical broadband network, Finland’s VIRVE 2.0 broadband service, Sweden’s Rakel G2 secure broadband system and Hungary’s EDR 2.0/3.0 broadband network. Nationwide initiatives in the pre-operational phase include but are not limited to Switzerland’s MSK (Secure Mobile Broadband Communications) system, Norway’s Nytt Nødnett, Germany’s planned hybrid broadband network for BOS (German Public Safety Organizations), Netherlands’ NOOVA (National Public Order & Security Architecture) program, Japan’s PS-LTE (Public Safety LTE) project, Australia’s PSMB (Public Safety Mobile Broadband) program and Canada’s national PSBN (Public Safety Broadband Network) initiative. 

Other operational and planned deployments range from the Halton-Peel region PSBN in Canada’s Ontario province, New South Wales’ state-based PSMB solution, China’s city and district-wide Band 45 (1.4 GHz) LTE networks for police forces, Hong Kong’s 700 MHz mission-critical broadband network, Royal Thai Police’s Band 26 (800 MHz) LTE network, Qatar MOI (Ministry of Interior), ROP (Royal Oman Police), Abu Dhabi Police and Nedaa’s mission-critical LTE networks in the oil-rich GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) region, Brazil’s state-wide LTE networks for both civil and military police agencies, Barbados’ Band 14 (700 MHz) LTE-based connectivity service platform, Zambia’s 400 MHz broadband trunking system and Mauritania’s public safety LTE network for urban security in Nouakchott to local and regional-level private LTE networks for first responders in markets as diverse as Laos, Indonesia, the Philippines, Pakistan, Lebanon, Egypt, Kenya, Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, Cameroon, Mali, Madagascar, Mauritius, Canary Islands, Spain, Turkey, Serbia, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Trinidad & Tobago, as well as multi-domain critical communications broadband networks such as MRC’s (Mobile Radio Center) LTE-based advanced MCA digital radio system in Japan, and secure MVNO platforms in Mexico, Belgium, Netherlands, Slovenia, Estonia and several other countries.

Even though critical public safety-related 5G NR capabilities defined in the 3GPP’s Release 17 and 18 specifications are yet to be commercialized, public safety agencies have already begun experimenting with 5G for applications that can benefit from the technology’s high-bandwidth and low-latency characteristics.  For example, the Lishui Municipal Emergency Management Bureau is using private 5G slicing over China Mobile’s network, portable cell sites and rapidly deployable communications vehicles as part of a disaster management and visualization system. 

In neighboring Taiwan, the Kaohsiung City Police Department relies on end-to-end network slicing over a standalone 5G network to support license plate recognition and other use cases requiring the real-time transmission of high-resolution images. The Hsinchu City Fire Department’s emergency response vehicle can be rapidly deployed to disaster zones to establish high-bandwidth, low-latency emergency communications using a satellite-backhauled private 5G network based on Open RAN standards. The Norwegian Air Ambulance is adopting a similar private 5G-based NOW (Network-on-Wheels) system for enhancing situational awareness during search and rescue operations.

In addition, first responder agencies in Germany, Japan and several other markets are beginning to utilize mid-band and mmWave (Millimeter Wave) spectrum available for local area licensing to deploy portable and small-scale 5G NPNs (Non-Public Networks) to support applications such as UHD (Ultra-High Definition) video surveillance, control of unmanned firefighting vehicles, reconnaissance robots and drones. In the near future, we also expect to see rollouts of localized 5G NR systems – including direct mode communications – for incident scene management and related use cases, potentially using up to 50 MHz of Band n79 spectrum in the 4.9 GHz frequency range (4,940-4,990 MHz), which has been designated for public safety use in multiple countries including but not limited to the United States, Canada, Australia, Malaysia and Qatar.

SNS Telecom & IT estimates that annual investments in public safety LTE/5G infrastructure and devices reached $4.3 Billion in 2023, driven by both new projects and the expansion of existing dedicated, hybrid government-commercial and secure MVNO/MOCN networks. Complemented by an expanding ecosystem of public safety-grade LTE/5G devices, the market will further grow at a CAGR of approximately 10% over the next three years, eventually accounting for more than $5.7 Billion by the end of 2026. Despite the positive outlook, some significant challenges continue to plague the market. The most noticeable pain point is the lack of a D2D communications capability. 

The ProSe (Proximity Services) chipset ecosystem failed to materialize in the LTE era due to limited support from chipmakers and terminal OEMs. However, the 5G NR sidelink interface offers a clean slate opportunity to introduce direct mode D2D communications for public safety broadband users, as well as coverage expansion in both on-network and off-network scenarios using UE-to-network and UE-to-UE relays respectively. Recent demonstrations of 5G NR sidelink-enabled MCX services by the likes of Qualcomm have generated renewed confidence in 3GPP technology for direct mode communications.

Until recently, another barrier impeding the market was the non-availability of cost-optimized RAN equipment and terminals that support operation in spectrum reserved for PPDR (Public Protection & Disaster Relief) communications – most notably Band 68 (698-703 / 753-758 MHz), which has been allocated for PPDR broadband systems in several national markets across Europe, including France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, Italy, Estonia, Bulgaria and Cyprus. Other countries such as Greece, Hungary, Romania, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands and Belgium are also expected to make this assignment. Since the beginning of 2023, multiple suppliers – including Ericsson, Nokia, Teltronic and CROSSCALL – have introduced support for Band 68.

The “Public Safety LTE & 5G Market: 2023 – 2030 – Opportunities, Challenges, Strategies & Forecasts” report presents an in-depth assessment of the public safety LTE and 5G market, including the value chain, market drivers, barriers to uptake, enabling technologies, operational models, application scenarios, key trends, future roadmap, standardization, spectrum availability/allocation, regulatory landscape, case studies, ecosystem player profiles and strategies. The report also presents global and regional market size forecasts from 2023 to 2030, covering public safety LTE/5G infrastructure, terminal equipment, applications, systems integration and management solutions, as well as subscriptions and service revenue.

The report comes with an associated Excel datasheet suite covering quantitative data from all numeric forecasts presented in the report, as well as a list and associated details of over 1,300 global public safety LTE/5G engagements – as of Q1’2024.



SNS Telecom & IT: Shared Spectrum 5G NR & LTE Small Cell RAN Investments to Reach $3 Billion

SNS Telecom & IT: CBRS Network Infrastructure a $1.5 Billion Market Opportunity

SNS Telecom & IT: Private LTE & 5G Network Infrastructure at $6.4 Billion by end of 2026

SNS Telecom & IT: Open RAN Intelligent Controller, xApps & rApps to reach $600 Million by 2025

SNS Telecom & IT: Shared Spectrum to Boost 5G NR & LTE Small Cell RAN Market

SNS Telecom & IT: Spending on Unlicensed LTE & 5G NR RAN infrastructure at $1.3 Billion by 2023

SNS Telecom: U.S. Network Operators will reap $1B from fixed wireless by late 2019

Daryl Schoolar: 5G mmWave still in the doldrums!

In November Recon Analytics completed a survey of 100 communication service providers (CSP) as part of its “Global Communication Service Provider Pulse” research practice. The survey included questions around the current state of their 5G networks, and their thoughts on 5G Advanced and 6G. Three of those questions are as follows:

  • What has been the biggest benefit of deploying 5G?
  • In the next phase of 5G’s development, also known as 5G-Advanced, several technological enhancements are under study or being developed. From the list below, which three possible 5G-Advanced technology areas do you think are the most important?
  • What are the most important technology areas that you think 6G should focus on?

The most common answers to all three of those questions had to do with increasing network capacity and gaining access to new spectrum. And this is where having lots of water but nothing to drink comes into play. There are mobile operators today who already have large swaths of fallow spectrum in the form of mmWave.

mmWave [1.] provides mobile operators with thousands of megahertz of new capacity, but the majority of 5G operators (with the exception of Verizon) have not started to use it. The limited deployment reflects the coverage and in-building penetration challenges that come with mmWave. Our survey findings underscore this reality. Recon asked mobile operators who currently have a commercial 5G network if they were using mmWave spectrum, below are the responses we got back.

Note 1. 5G mmWave is a set of 5G frequencies that can provide ultra-fast speeds over short distances. It operates on wavelengths between 30 GHz and 300 GHz, which is higher than 4G LTE’s wavelengths of under 6 GHz.

Of the 100 operators we surveyed 66% have a commercial 5G network. Of that group, 35% say they have deployed 5G for mmWave. 44% of the respondents have mmWave spectrum but are either focused on building their network in other spectrum bands, or don’t currently see a commercial reason to use mmWave. The ongoing underutilization of 5G mmWave seems to be impacting the current outlook for future 6G spectrum as well.

When asking mobile network operators about what they thought were the most important areas 6G should focus on, the most common answer given was more capacity through new spectrum. Originally, industry discussions on new 6G spectrum bands were focused on terahertz, which would be even more challenging to work with than mmWave. In the last year there has been a shift. 6G spectrum discussions have moved to the possibility of using bands in the 7 GHz to 24 GHz range. While these bands still have their difficulties when it comes to coverage and in-door penetration, they are not as problematic as terahertz or in many cases mmWave. However, this change in thinking around 6G spectrum does not change the challenges mobile operators must deal with today when it comes to mmWave.

That is where companies like Pivotal Commware and ZTE can be of assistance. Pivotal Commware has pioneered 5G mmWave repeaters that allow a mobile network operator to improve signal range and coverage at a fraction of the cost of an additional mmWave radio. This helps to improve the economics of using mmWave for 5G. Verizon has publicly acknowledged that it is working with the vendor in the U.S. In Asia, ZTE has been working on a solution of its own to overcome line of sight issues with mmWave that it calls RIS 2.0. AIS (Thailand) has trialed RIS 2.0.

Mobile operators’ desire for more capacity is not going away, especially with the emergence of fixed wireless access. The challenge is finding new ways to meet those capacity needs. Operators can continue to milk lower bands and squeeze capacity improvements out of them, but that will only take them so far. mmWave and other higher spectrum bands are well suited to meet growing capacity requirements, but it will require the development of repeaters and reflective services to make those higher bands easier to use for 5G and eventually 6G. It doesn’t help operators to be surrounded by a spectrum they cannot effectively employ, like sailors at sea with no drinkable water in sight.

Daryl Schoolar is a director and analyst at Recon Analytics where he focuses on telecommunication service providers and companies that provide networking communication solutions to those service providers. Some of the topics he covers are digital transformation, 5G, 6G, cloud networking, and telecom service strategies.


Vodafone Germany deploys Ericsson 5G radio to cut energy use up to 40%

Vodafone Germany has partnered with Ericsson to deploy new power-saving radio technology on its 5G network. The radio unit 6646 bundles three different frequencies (900, 800 and 700 MHz) and radio cells in one system in the control center located at the bottom of a mobile base station.  By bundling the active technology, 5G base stations function with 32-40% less power.

The advantage of mobile radio stations with area frequencies is that they provide particularly large areas with stable and reliable mobile radio coverage. By bundling the active technology of different frequency ranges and several radio cells in one unit, they now require between 32 and 40 percent less energy, according to trials on the Vodafone network. Following successful tests in the North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) region, the telecommunications group is now successively activating the technology in the live network together with its technology partner Ericsson.

The new energy-saving radio from Ericsson has been intensively tested in the live network in Wachtendonk in the Lower Rhine region over the past few weeks. The positive test results demonstrate an energy-saving potential of up to 40 percent per 5G base station and are the reason for today’s large-scale rollout. The new technology will be installed and automatically activated in NRW, Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse, Saarland and Baden-Württemberg during routine maintenance and modernization work.

Test results on the Vodafone network show that energy requirements can be reduced by more than 2,500 kilowatt hours (kWh) per mobile phone site per year by bundling the active technology. This is roughly equivalent to the annual energy requirement of a two-person household per mobile phone station. If the technology is activated on a large scale in the network, significantly more than 30 million kilowatt hours of electricity can be saved each year. At the same time, stable and reliable network coverage will also be strengthened in rural regions.

Vodafone Germany CEO Philippe Rogge, says: “For the first time, we are bundling the active antenna technology of different area frequencies in mobile communications. This is good for smartphone users in rural areas and good for our planet. Because with the new technology, we are bringing fast and reliable 5G networks even better to people in rural areas and deep into buildings. At the same time, we are reducing the energy requirements of our mobile phone antennas. We expect to be able to save more than 30 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year with large-scale activation in our network.”

Daniel Leimbach, Head of Western Europe at Ericsson, says: “Energy consumption reduced by up to 40 percent, weight reduced by 60 percent – around a year ago, we celebrated a world premiere at the launch of the Radio 6646 at the Eurolab in Aachen. At the Imagine Live Innovation Day in the research and development center, our experts presented the innovative 5G technology for the first time. We are all the more pleased that Vodafone is convinced of its performance and energy efficiency and is installing the technology in the area. Because only innovations that are scalable, economical and powerful at the same time deliver the full benefits for mobile customers and sustainability.

The technology in Ericsson’s new radio:

Ericsson’s new remote radio combines the different 5G area frequencies 900, 800 and 700 MHz as well as the components of several radio cells into one compact system in a more sustainable way. By bundling three frequencies and several radio cells, the transmission technology consumes significantly less energy for each individual frequency range at full power. In addition, the new radio is 60 percent lighter and therefore requires less energy and material in the manufacturing process.

On the way to CO2 neutrality:

The new antenna product is another building block on Vodafone’s path to becoming more sustainable step by step. The Düsseldorf-based company has set itself specific targets to be CO2-neutral by 2025. The network is the biggest and most important lever here. Vodafone Germany has therefore been sourcing 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources since 2020. It is also constantly testing new technologies and solutions to make the German mobile network more sustainable and conserve resources. For example, the dynamic energy-saving mode in the mobile network has already been ensuring an intelligent adjustment between actual energy demand and consumption around the clock for over a year.




Ericsson and Vodafone deploy new energy-efficient, light 5G radio in London

Ericsson and U.S. PAWR 5G SA network for rural agricultural research

TDC NET with Ericsson launch first 5G Standalone network in Denmark

Ericsson powers Singtel 5G SA core network; lightest and smallest Massive MIMO radio

Ericsson announces 5G standalone NR software and 2 new Massive MIMO radios

Ericsson, Vodafone and Qualcomm: 1st Reduced Capability 5G data call in Europe

Ericsson, Vodafone and Qualcomm have demonstrated the first RAN Reduced Capability (RedCap) [1.] 5G data sessions on a European network, paving the way for a multitude of IoT and other connected devices to transmit data more simply and efficiently.

Note 1. 3GPP RedCap is a variation of 5G technology that was introduced in 3GPP Release 17 in mid-2022 and will be included in ITU-R M.2150-1. It provides reduced capability 5G New Radio (NR) devices for the mid-range segment.  RedCap NR features include: Reduced UE complexity Fewer RX/TX antennas Reduced UE bandwidth use Lower UE power consumption Relaxed data rates Relaxed UE processing time and processing capability RedCap’s speeds, latency, and spectrum use are similar to advanced LTE capabilities. It’s considered the 5G heir to LTE Cat-4, with speeds of tens to hundreds of Mbps.


The successful demo took place on 21 September 2023 in the Spanish city of Ciudad Real, running on Ericsson’s RedCap RAN software using Vodafone Spain’s live testing 5G network ‘CREATE’ (Ciudad Real España Advanced Testing Environment).

RedCap enables connectivity for simpler device types, allowing many more devices to connect to 5G networks and transmit data at low power and lower cost, enhancing existing 5G use cases and unlocking new ones. These advantages apply to many different devices, from consumer wearables such as smartwatches to a wide range of IoT devices like smart water meters.

The technology, called New Radio Light (NR-Light), works with less complex devices that can be smaller, more cost-efficient, and enjoy longer battery life than traditional mobile broadband devices. NR-Light can also complement the network APIs developed by Vodafone for its customers to extend the battery life of their devices.

The joint demonstration in Spain leveraged the Qualcomm Snapdragon® X35 platform, the world’s first NR-Light modem RF. The Snapdragon X35 platform bridges the complexity gap between high-speed mobile broadband devices, and low-bandwidth, low-power devices. The demo is part of preparations for the introduction of Snapdragon-based commercial devices which are expected in 2024.

“This successful demonstration is an exciting moment for OEMs, network operators and network users, because it highlights a clear path to new devices and commercial use cases,” said Dino Flore, Vice President, Technology, Qualcomm Europe Inc. “The use of commercial 5G networks for lower-bandwidth applications is an important milestone, not least because this offers a migratory path for low-power devices with a 5G architecture, which also draws on the current and future benefits offered by 5G standalone (5G SA). We will continue to work with customers, industry and our partners to accelerate the creation of 5G devices which present exciting new use cases for enterprises and consumers.”

“Vodafone is able to continually evolve and improve its network for customers by being first to test the latest technologies. We are delighted that our unique multi-vendor 5G network, CREATE, was able to host and validate such an innovative trial in collaboration with Qualcomm and Ericsson,” said Francisco Martín, Head of Open RAN, Vodafone. “The results show that networks will be able to support many more energy efficient connected devices in the future.”

“We are very happy to be partnering with Vodafone and Qualcomm to perform Europe’s first 5G Reduced Capability data call,” said Isidro Nieto, Global Customer Unit Vodafone, Head of Technology Networks, Ericsson. “5G Redcap opens up new use cases for both enterprise and consumer segments such as industrial sensors, lower cost 5G routers as well as wearables. Ericsson embraces new ways to fully realize the value of 5G services and this joint demo shows that that the support for RedCap is gaining market momentum.”


Earlier this year, Juniper Research said the number of 5G IoT roaming connections will reach 142 million by 2027, up from just 15 million this year. IoT will account for 27% of all 5G roaming connections in four years time.


ITU-R M.2150-1 (5G RAN standard) will include 3GPP Release 17 enhancements; future revisions by 2025

Dell’Oro: Mobile Core Network market has lowest growth rate since 4Q 2017

The global mobile core network (MCN) market has just turned in its lowest quarterly growth rate for almost six years, hit by a difficult political and economic climate, as well as by slow rollouts of 5G standalone core networks.  Dell’Oro Group reports that the MCN market has become erratic, with the lowest growth rate since 4Q 2017. Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), and China were the weakest performing regions in 3rdQ 2023.

“It has become quite obvious the MCN market has entered into a very unpredictable phase after breaking the highest growth rate in 2ndQ 2023 since 1stQ 2021, and now hitting the lowest performing growth rate in 3rdQ 2023 since 4thQ 2017. Last quarter, EMEA and China were the strongest performing regions and flipped this quarter, becoming the weakest performing regions,” stated Dave Bolan, Research Director at Dell’Oro Group.

“Many vendors state that the market is volatile, attributing this phenomenon to macroeconomic conditions such as the fear of higher inflation rates, unfavorable currency foreign exchange rates, and the geopolitical climate.

“Besides subscriber growth, the growth engine for the MCN market is the transition to 5G Standalone (5G SA), which employs the 5G Core. But after five years into the 5G era, we are still seeing more 5G Non-Standalone (5G NSA) networks being launched than 5G SA, and the pace of 5G SA networks has slowed from 17 launched in 2022 to only seven so far in 2023. However, we expect more 5G SA networks to be deployed in 2024 than in 2023, and we expect 2024’s market performance to be better than 2023,” continued Bolan.

Additional highlights from the 3Q 2023 Mobile Core Network and Multi-Access Edge Computing Report include:

  • Two new MNOs launched commercial 5G SA networks in 3Q23: Telefónica O2 in Germany and Etisalat in the UAE.
  • Ericsson is the vendor of record for the 5G packet core for all seven 5G SA networks launched in 2023.
  • As of 3Q 2023, 45 MNOs have commercially deployed 5G SA eMBB networks.
  • The top MCN vendors worldwide for 3Q 2023 [1.] were: Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia, and ZTE.
  • The top 5G MCN vendors worldwide for 3Q 2023 were Huawei, Ericsson, ZTE, and Nokia.

Note 1. Dell’Oro did not supply any actual MCN market share percentages or numbers.


In August the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) released Q2 figures that showed just 36 operators worldwide has launched public 5G SA networks, including two soft launches, by the end of June, an increase of just one on the previous quarter.

In total, the GSA said that 115 operators in 52 countries had invested in public 5G SA networks – that includes actual deployments as well as planned rollouts and trials – by the end of Q2, with no new names added during the quarter, and an increase of just three on the end of 2022.

About the Report:
The Dell’Oro Group Mobile Core Network & Multi-Access Edge Computing Quarterly Report offers complete, in-depth coverage of the market with tables covering manufacturers’ revenue, shipments, and average selling prices for Evolved Packet Core, 5G Packet Core, Policy, Subscriber Data Management, and IMS Core including licenses by Non-NFV and NFV, and by geographic regions. To purchase this report, please contact us at [email protected].

About Dell’Oro Group:
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


Mobile Core Network Market is on a Roller Coaster Ride, Dips Big in 3Q 2023, According to Dell’Oro Group

Dell’Oro: RAN market declines at very fast pace while

Mobile Core Network returns to growth in Q2-2023

Dell’Oro: RAN Market to Decline 1% CAGR; Mobile Core Network growth reduced to 1% CAGR

Dell’Oro: Mobile Core Network & MEC revenues to be > $50 billion by 2027

GSA 5G SA Core Network Update Report

5G SA networks (real 5G) remain conspicuous by their absence


Dell’Oro: Market Forecasts Decreased fo

r Mobile Core Network and Private Wireless RANs

SNS Telecom & IT: Shared Spectrum 5G NR & LTE Small Cell RAN Investments to Reach $3 Billion

SNS Telecom & IT‘s latest research report indicates that annual spending on 5G NR and LTE-based small cell RAN (Radio Access Network) equipment operating in shared and unlicensed spectrum will account for nearly $3 Billion by the end of 2026.

As the 5G era advances, the cellular communications industry is undergoing a revolutionary paradigm shift, driven by technological innovations, liberal regulatory policies and disruptive business models. One important aspect of this radical transformation is the growing adoption of shared and unlicensed spectrum – frequencies that are not exclusively licensed to a single mobile operator.

Telecommunications regulatory authorities across the globe have either launched or are in the process of releasing innovative frameworks to facilitate the coordinated sharing of licensed spectrum.

Examples include (but are not limited to): the three-tiered CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) spectrum sharing scheme in the United States, Germany’s 3.7-3.8 GHz and 28 GHz licenses for 5G campus networks, United Kingdom’s shared and local access licensing model, France’s vertical spectrum and sub-letting arrangements, Netherlands’ geographically restricted mid-band spectrum assignments, Switzerland’s 3.4 – 3.5 GHz band for NPNs (Non-Public Networks), Finland’s 2.3 GHz and 26 GHz licenses for local 4G/5G networks, Sweden’s 3.7 GHz and 26 GHz permits, Norway’s regulation of local networks in the 3.8-4.2 GHz band, Poland’s spectrum assignment for local government units and enterprises, Bahrain’s private 5G network licenses, Japan’s 4.6-4.9 GHz and 28 GHz local 5G network licenses, South Korea’s e-Um 5G allocations in the 4.7 GHz and 28 GHz bands, Taiwan’s provision of 4.8-4.9 GHz spectrum for private 5G networks, Hong Kong’s LWBS (Localized Wireless Broadband System) licenses, Australia’s apparatus licensing approach, Canada’s planned NCL (Non-Competitive Local) licensing framework and Brazil’s SLP (Private Limited Service) licenses.

Another important development is the growing accessibility of independent cellular networks that operate solely in unlicensed spectrum by leveraging nationally designated license-exempt frequencies such as the GAA (General Authorized Access) tier of the 3.5 GHz CBRS band in the United States and Japan’s 1.9 GHz sXGP (Shared Extended Global Platform) band. In addition, vast swaths of globally and regionally harmonized license-exempt spectrum – most notably, the 600 MHz TVWS (TV White Space), 5 GHz, 6 GHz and 60 GHz bands – are also available worldwide, which can be used for the operation of unlicensed LTE and 5G NR-U (NR in Unlicensed Spectrum) equipment subject to domestic regulations.

Collectively, ground-breaking spectrum liberalization initiatives are catalyzing the rollout of shared and unlicensed spectrum-enabled LTE and 5G NR networks for a diverse array of use cases – ranging from mobile network densification, FWA (Fixed Wireless Access) in rural communities and MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) offload to neutral host infrastructure and private cellular networks for enterprises and vertical industries such as agriculture, education, healthcare, manufacturing, military, mining, oil and gas, public sector, retail and hospitality, sports, transportation and utilities.

SNS Telecom & IT estimates that global investments in 5G NR and LTE-based RAN infrastructure operating in shared and unlicensed spectrum will account for more than $1.4 Billion by the end of 2023. The market is expected to continue its upward trajectory beyond 2023, growing at a CAGR of approximately 27% between 2023 and 2026 to reach nearly $3 Billion in annual spending by 2026.

The “Shared & Unlicensed Spectrum LTE/5G Network Ecosystem: 2023 – 2030 – Opportunities, Challenges, Strategies & Forecasts” report presents a detailed assessment of the shared and unlicensed spectrum LTE/5G network ecosystem, including the value chain, market drivers, barriers to uptake, enabling technologies, key trends, future roadmap, business models, use cases, application scenarios, standardization, spectrum availability and allocation, regulatory landscape, case studies, ecosystem player profiles and strategies. The report also provides global and regional forecasts for shared and unlicensed spectrum LTE/5G RAN infrastructure from 2023 to 2030. The forecasts cover two air interface technologies, two cell type categories, two spectrum licensing models, 15 frequency bands, seven use cases and five regional markets.

The report comes with an associated Excel datasheet suite covering quantitative data from all numeric forecasts presented in the report.

The report will be of value to current and future potential investors into the shared and unlicensed spectrum LTE/5G network market, as well as LTE/5G equipment suppliers, system integrators, mobile operators, MVNOs, fixed-line service providers, neutral hosts, private network operators, vertical domain specialists and other ecosystem players who wish to broaden their knowledge of the ecosystem.

Key Findings:

  • SNS Telecom & IT estimates that global investments in LTE and 5G NR-based RAN infrastructure operating in shared and unlicensed spectrum will account for more than $1.4 Billion by the end of 2023. The market is expected to continue its upward trajectory beyond 2023, growing at a CAGR of approximately 27% between 2023 and 2026 to reach nearly $3 Billion in annual spending by 2026.
  • Breaking away from traditional practices of spectrum assignment for mobile services that predominantly focused on exclusive-use national licenses, telecommunications regulatory authorities across the globe have either launched or are in the process of releasing innovative frameworks to facilitate the coordinated sharing of licensed spectrum. Examples include but are not limited to:
    • The three-tiered CBRS spectrum sharing scheme in the United States
    • Germany’s 3.7-3.8 GHz and 28 GHz licenses for 5G campus networks
    • United Kingdom’s shared and local access licensing model
    • France’s vertical spectrum and sub-letting arrangements
    • Netherlands’ geographically restricted mid-band spectrum assignments
    • Switzerland’s 3.4 – 3.5 GHz band for NPNs (Non-Public Networks)
    • Finland’s 2.3 GHz and 26 GHz licenses for local 4G/5G networks
    • Sweden’s 3.7 GHz and 26 GHz permits, Norway’s regulation of local networks in the 3.8-4.2 GHz band
    • Poland’s spectrum assignment for local government units and enterprises
    • Bahrain’s private 5G network licenses
    • Japan’s 4.6-4.9 GHz and 28 GHz local 5G network licenses
    • South Korea’s e-Um 5G allocations in the 4.7 GHz and 28 GHz bands
    • Taiwan’s provision of 4.8-4.9 GHz spectrum for private 5G networks
    • Hong Kong’s LWBS (Localized Wireless Broadband System) licenses
    • Australia’s apparatus licensing approach
    • Canada’s planned NCL (Non-Competitive Local) licensing framework
    • Brazil’s SLP (Private Limited Service) licenses
  • Another important development is the growing accessibility of independent cellular networks that operate solely in unlicensed spectrum by leveraging nationally designated license-exempt frequencies such as the GAA tier of the 3.5 GHz CBRS band in the United States and Japan’s 1.9 GHz sXGP band. In addition, vast swaths of globally and regionally harmonized license-exempt spectrum – most notably, the 600 MHz TVWS, 5 GHz, 6 GHz and 60 GHz bands – are also available worldwide, which can be used for the operation of unlicensed LTE and 5G NR-U (NR in Unlicensed Spectrum) equipment subject to domestic regulations.
  • Collectively, ground-breaking spectrum liberalization initiatives are catalyzing the rollout of shared and unlicensed spectrum-enabled LTE and 5G NR networks for a diverse array of use cases – ranging from mobile network densification, FWA in rural communities and MVNO offload to neutral host infrastructure and private cellular networks for enterprises and vertical industries such as agriculture, education, healthcare, manufacturing, military, mining, oil and gas, public sector, retail and hospitality, sports, transportation and utilities.
  • In particular, private LTE and 5G networks operating in shared spectrum are becoming an increasingly common theme. Hundreds of local and priority access licenses – predominantly in mid-band spectrum – have been issued in the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Finland, Sweden, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and other pioneering markets to facilitate the operation of purpose-built wireless networks based on 3GPP standards.
  • Airbus, ArcelorMittal, Bayer, BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), BMW, Bosch, Dow, EDF, Ferrovial, Groupe ADP, Holmen Iggesund, Hoban Construction, Hsinchu City Fire Department, Inventec, John Deere, KEPCO (Korea Electric Power Corporation), Lufthansa, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, NAVER, NFL (National Football League), Osaka Gas, Ricoh, SDG&E (San Diego Gas & Electric), Siemens, SVT (Sveriges Television), Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen, X Shore and the U.S. military are just a few of the many end user organizations investing in shared spectrum-enabled private cellular networks.
  • In some national markets, neutral host solutions based on shared spectrum small cells are being employed as a cost-effective means of coverage enhancement inside office spaces, public venues and other indoor environments. One prominent example is social media and technology giant Meta’s in-building wireless network that uses small cells operating in the GAA tier of CBRS spectrum and MOCN (Multi-Operator Core Network) technology to provide multi-operator cellular coverage at its properties in the United States.
  • Although the uptake of 5G NR equipment operating in high-band mmWave (Millimeter Wave) frequencies has been slower than initially anticipated, practical cases of 5G networks based on locally licensed 26/28 GHz spectrum are steadily piling up in multiple national markets – examples range from private 5G installations at HKIA (Hong Kong International Airport), SMC (Samsung Medical Center) and various manufacturing facilities to Japanese cable TV operator-led deployments of 28 GHz local 5G networks.
  • The very first deployments of 5G NR-U technology are also beginning to emerge. For example, the SGCC (State Grid Corporation of China) has deployed a private NR-U network – operating in license-exempt Band n46 (5.8 GHz) spectrum – to support video surveillance, mobile inspection robots and other 5G-connected applications at its Lanzhou East and Mogao substations in China’s Gansu province. In the coming years, with the technology’s commercial maturity, we also anticipate seeing NR-U deployments in Band n96 (6 GHz) and Band n263 (60 GHz) for both licensed assisted and standalone modes of operation.


SNS Telecom & IT: CBRS Network Infrastructure a $1.5 Billion Market Opportunity

SNS Telecom & IT: Private LTE & 5G Network Infrastructure at $6.4 Billion by end of 2026

SNS Telecom & IT: Open RAN Intelligent Controller, xApps & rApps to reach $600 Million by 2025

SNS Telecom & IT: Shared Spectrum to Boost 5G NR & LTE Small Cell RAN Market

SNS Telecom & IT: Spending on Unlicensed LTE & 5G NR RAN infrastructure at $1.3 Billion by 2023

SNS Telecom: U.S. Network Operators will reap $1B from fixed wireless by late 2019

WSJ: Has 5G Lived Up to Expectations?

Hundreds of billions of dollars have been invested worldwide in 5G.  What was the return on that huge investment?  As we forecasted five years ago and ever since then, 5G hasn’t revolutionized whole swaths of the economy the way past mobile technologies did.


Opinion: Network operators and 5G vendors promised too much and under delivered.  3GPP and ITU-R WP 5D are partially to blame for the commercial failure of 5G.

In particular, URLLC- the key 5G use case- could not be realized because 3GPP Release 16 spec for Enhancements for URLLC in the RAN wasn’t complete and so could not be implemented.  Those enhancements were to enable URLLC end points to realize ITU-R M.2410 performance requirements, e.g. <1 ms latency in the data plane and <10 ms latency in the control plane.

Also, the 3GPP specs for 5G Architecture did not include implementation of 5G SA Core network, but instead provided many options.  Hence, there are many versions of 5G SA Core networks, with many major network operators, e.g. AT&T and Verizon, still using 5G NSA (with LTE infrastructure for everything but the RAN).

ITU-R M2150, the terrestrial 5G RIT/SRIT recommendation, did not meet the M.2410 URLLC performance requirements (due to absence of 3GPP Rel 16 URLLC in the RAN spec),  Also, it was not accompanied by the companion recommendation M.1036 issue 6 IMT Frequency Arrangements, which could not be agreed upon till a few months ago (it’s expected to be approved by ITU-R SG 5 meeting this November).  As a result, there were no standard frequencies for 5G. That resulted in a “frequency free for all” where administrations like the FCC chose frequencies for 5G that were not agreed upon at WRC’19 and assigned to ITU-R WP 5D to specify the frequency arrangements.

For sure, the U.S. wireless carriers offering 5G service have not had anywhere near a good ROI.  That’s indicative of the decline in their stock prices this year.  Despite an 8.67% dividend, Verizon (VZ) stock has lost -16.39% YTD through Friday Oct 13th. AT&T (T) stock has performed slightly worse with a -16.74% YTD total return.  The Dow Jones U.S. Telecommunications Index is -17.34% YTD through Friday.


In markets with widespread 5G, cellphone users often fail to notice a difference in service compared with 4G-LTE.  This author has had a 5G Samsung Galaxy phone for over one year and does not notice any difference from 4G-LTE.

A key growth opportunity for 5G—businesses installing private networks in places such as manufacturing plants and arenas—has yet to take off.

In the U.S., about 43% of people had 5G mobile subscriptions as of June, ranking 10th worldwide, according to estimates from research firm Omdia. Hong Kong had the world’s highest 5G penetration rate, with 74% of its population subscribed to the mobile service. Ranked second- and third-highest in the world were mainland China and South Korea, which registered 5G mobile-subscription rates of 60% and 59%, respectively.

The high uptake in China and its neighbors is no accident. Smartphone users in several Asian countries have benefited from affordable next-generation devices, strong fiber-optic infrastructure and government policies that encouraged broad 5G cellular coverage. China and South Korea also host technology giants like Huawei and Samsung that are spearheading the wireless technology’s advancement.

Finland had the highest 5G penetration rate in Europe, at 58%, while the United Arab Emirates led the Middle East, also with 58%.

Getting “4G for all, not 5G for few,” has been the mantra for the past two years at Veon, a network operator that serves cash-strapped markets from Ukraine to Bangladesh.

The Amsterdam-based company has already covered 90% of the six countries it serves with 4G signals. Some areas lack the fiber-optic-cable infrastructure to support 5G-capable cellphone towers, and roughly half of the population in those markets lacks even a smartphone, let alone one capable of picking up 5G connections. Some countries also impose high taxes on smartphones, which puts the devices out of reach for many consumers, says Veon Chief Executive Kaan Terzioğlu.

“This is really matching the needs of the markets with the technologies that are available,” Terzioğlu told the WSJ. Spending money on 5G infrastructure before the people it covers are ready to tap it “would be irresponsible,” he added.

Business owners and executives in many poorer countries say they wouldn’t plan around ultrafast wireless connections in places where 2010 technology is still the norm. “There’s not enough coverage or towers here,” says Nicholas Lutchmiah, retail manager at Topbet, a licensed gambling bookmaker and sports-betting company in South Africa, which has most of its shops in poorer townships and rural areas. “That’s the biggest problem that we face. In rural areas and townships, we get 3G, which is rather slow.”

Despite the limitations, some developing countries have invested heavily in 5G technology. Indian telecom companies have committed tens of billions of dollars to the latest network technology and making a push for ultracheap smartphones, for instance. Domestic conglomerate Reliance Industries  has led much of its country’s aggressive telecom investments through its Jio brand, the spearhead of leader Mukesh Ambani’s ambition “to connect everyone and everything, everywhere.”

The wireless companies that invested in 5G technology early paid handsomely to refresh their networks. and they have the balance sheets to prove it. The world’s biggest wireless companies—excluding China’s state-backed operators—carried $1.211 trillion of corporate debt at the end of 2022, up from $1.072 trillion four years earlier, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

The credit-rating service said that those companies spent more than in past years building up their wireless networks and issued more debt to finance big spectrum purchases. The price of that spectrum has varied but generally risen. One auction raised $19 billion in India while another group of licenses fetched $81 billion in the U.S.

Debt is nothing new to big telephone networks. The capital-intensive companies have historically run through cycles of heavy upfront spending on new equipment and installation before paying down the tab over time through reliable subscription fees; phone and internet service is a modern necessity, after all.

But securing airwaves for new 5G signals has forced companies to speed up their borrowing. “There’s a lot of debt on these companies,” Moody’s analyst Emile El Nems says. “We’re not ringing the alarm bells, but we’re saying there’s limited flexibility for an accident.”

Executives at telecom companies that borrowed the most to amass 5G-friendly spectrum licenses have said that they made prudent investments to meet customers’ demand for mobile bandwidth, and that their biggest spending is behind them, at least in the near term.

AT&T CEO John Stankey said at a recent investor conference that his company will end this year by paying down debt “first and foremost.”
Verizon’s finance chief said at another conference that trimming debt is “extremely important to us.”  The high cost of airwaves is also convincing some government policy makers to tweak their rules to ease the private-sector burden. Soaring demand for spectrum licenses in India prompted the government to take payments in installments so that companies wouldn’t need to rely too much on capital markets. Governments in Malaysia, Mexico and Israel have tried out different models that let private companies share or lease the airwaves they need, rather than paying large sums for exclusive rights.
China-American rivalry has loomed large through the 5G era, turning what was once a routine network-investment cycle into a geopolitical arms race. The Chinese and U.S. governments have each signaled their intent to control the future of 5G infrastructure not only in their home markets but around the world. Policy makers on both sides of the Pacific are hoping to reap the economic benefits that ultrafast cellular networks can offer their country’s private sector while controlling the technology used to build them.

China moved early to enhance its national infrastructure, blanketing the country with 5G base stations as soon as manufacturers started making them. The country’s three major mobile-phone carriers anchored those transmitters to a dense network of fiber-optic cables and encouraged a range of businesses from seaports to coal mines to use the ultrafast connections. It has also provided subsidies and regulatory support to telecom operators and tech companies, facilitating their growth and enabling them to compete on a global scale.

At the end of June, 5G base stations in the country connected 676 million 5G phones and more than 2.12 billion Internet of Things devices, China’s central-government officials said in a press conference in July.

U.S. officials offered their national cellphone carriers fewer direct subsidies than their Beijing counterparts, but policy makers granted many requests on the companies’ wish lists. Trump administration appointees fast-tracked auctions of 5G-capable wireless frequencies and consolidated the wireless sector by approving T-Mobile’s takeover of rival Sprint, a deal that the company and government leaders said would accelerate long-planned network upgrades.

At the same time, the U.S. has tried to persuade other countries to not buy Chinese gear—an effort that prompted some governments to ban its telecom equipment. But China’s homegrown supplier, Huawei, has weathered the U.S. efforts and played a pivotal role in both the domestic and global 5G markets. At the same time, they have turned away from Western suppliers like Qualcomm for some components and are now relying on domestic suppliers.

Huawei remains the world’s largest seller of telecom equipment, commanding about a third of the global market, with sales about twice those of the second- and third-ranked suppliers, Nokia and Ericsson, according to market-research firm Dell’Oro Group.

What happened to businesses being big 5G consumers?

One of 5G’s most alluring promises remains the private network: a system built to the same standard as a high-speed cellphone service but tailored for a business operating in a smaller area like an office, farm or factory. Those networks can connect a range of computers, sensors and robotics without the hassle and cost of hooking them up with wires.

For now, though, companies have been slow to adopt private networks. Consider “the factory of the future” that Ford and Vodafone previewed outside London in 2020. The companies detailed plans for a swarm of mobile robot welders receiving orders over superfast 5G connections, so they could assemble electric cars more quickly and precisely than traditional equipment.

Three years later, the factory of the future is still just a concept. Ford doesn’t use the high-tech wireless standard on its production line, and Vodafone says it ended its proof-of-concept project with the American automaker. A Ford spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment.

In total, organizations have built more than 750 private cellular networks around the world, according to Besen Group, a private-network consultancy. Installations run the gamut from college campuses to open-pit mines, though many of them use less-advanced 4G gear instead of the latest-generation electronics.

That is partly because of a chicken-or-the-egg problem with private networks. A device maker might not want to create 5G gear for factories until more factories have installed cellular networks. But factory owners don’t want to invest in those networks unless there are enough 5G-ready devices on the market to justify the upgrade.

“This is actually fairly typical for new network equipment,” says Vodafone cloud and private-network chief Jenn Didoni. “The devices will certainly come, but there aren’t as many as in 4G, and they aren’t as tested and understood.”

Dell’Oro estimates that private networks make up less than 1% of the market for the relevant 5G equipment, but the research firm predicts that early revenue will grow, on average, at a 25% annual rate over the next five years as more connected gadgets hit the market.

“In the beginning, a lot of the conversations used to be about feasibility,” says Durga Malladi, a senior vice president at chip maker Qualcomm. “If I am interested in moving robots and overhead cranes using 5G, can I even get the same level of reliability and latency that I have expected from just wired? And the answer to that is, in almost all instances, absolutely yes.”

Many industries have yet to experience the market disruption that 5G’s boosters promised. A notable exception: Some telecom companies are enjoying a windfall from wireless bandwidth improvements at the expense of their cable-internet rivals.

Mobile network carriers like T-Mobile and Verizon have used new high-speed wireless equipment to beam internet service straight into customers’ homes, racking up more than five million new subscriptions altogether in under three years. The over-the-air service has dented cable-industry revenue and forced companies to compete in areas where they were once the only game in town.

Telecom companies have long known how to beam internet connections into people’s homes without the considerable expense of new wires and equipment. But wireless companies faced an uphill fight against their hard-wired competitors until 5G improvements brought advances such as more-efficient signals that could run through the same cell-tower antennas that companies were already installing to connect cellphones.

That helped mobile-network operators quickly rack up home-internet customers at much lower variable costs, especially in America, where cable companies’ dissatisfied customers offer a juicy target.

“The U.S. is very unusual because we pay so much for home broadband,” says Jeff Heynen, an analyst for Dell’Oro. “The way T-Mobile and Verizon are addressing the service, clearly you know who they’re going after.”

Markets with many far-flung customers, like Australia and Saudi Arabia, could soon follow the U.S. lead in 5G home-internet service, Heynen adds. Industry experts warn that the booming wireless-broadband business isn’t going to replace cable soon, however.

Capacity is the main factor holding back wireless internet services. A single cellular tower can only handle so many videogames, TV streams and Zoom calls at once, even after 5G upgrades offer those towers more bandwidth to go around.

T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert has even played down his company’s booming home-internet business, telling investors at a Goldman Sachs conference in September that the service would eventually reach a customer base in the single-digit millions. That is a sliver of the more than 100 million U.S. households that could use broadband service.  “It’s a very mainstream offer, but we don’t think it’s going to take over cable and fiber,” Sievert said.

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