Gartner: Market Guide for 3GPP “5G New Radio (NR)” Infrastructure

Editor’s Note:

Most mobile 5G deployments to date are based on 3GPP Release 15 “5G NR” or “NR”in the data plane and Non Stand Alone (NSA), with LTE for everything else (i.e. control plane/signalling, mobile packet core, network management, etc).  3GPP Release 16 will hopefully add ultra low latency, ultra high reliability to the 5G NR data plane.  Equally important will be the 5G systems architecture-phase 2 that will be specified in Release 16. That spec includes a 5G mobile packet core (5GC) which is a forklift upgrade from the 4G-LTE Evolved Packet Core (EPC).  It remains to be seen which ITU study group will standardized 5GC when 3GPP Release 16 is completed in late June 2020.

From the paper titled Narrowband Internet of Things 5G Performance published in 2019 IEEE 90th Vehicular Technology Conference (VTC2019-Fall):

5G NR supports new frequency bands ranging all the way up to 52.6 GHz. These new frequency bands make large system bandwidths available that are needed to improve the mobile broadband data rates beyond what LTE can offer.

NR also supports a reduced latency by means of reduced transmission time intervals and shortened device processing times compared to LTE. To provide high reliability, NR supports low code rates and a high level of redundancy.

In the initial phase of the transition from 4G to 5G, NR is expected to be a complement to both LTE and NB-IoT, providing enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) and critical IoT services. The past industrial practice suggests that the mobile network operators will stepwise re-farm parts of its LTE spectrum for enabling NR. Since NR supports a new range of frequency bands, an attractive alternative approach is to deploy NR in a set of new rather than existing bands. 3GPP Release 15 allows NR to connect to the EPC to support a seamless transition from LTE to NR.

The NR traffic volumes will eventually motivate a full refarming of the LTE MBB spectrum to NR. The longevity of NB-IoT devices is however expected to make NB-IoT a natural component within the 5G echo-system. For this reason, NR supports reservation of radio resources to enable LTE operation including NB-IoT, within an NR carrier. This allows NB-IoT to add NR in-band operation to its list of supported deployment options. Since both NR and NB-IoT employ an OFDM based modulation with support for 15-kHz subcarrier numerology, in the downlink (DL) true interference-free orthogonality can be achieved without configuration of guard-bands between the two systems.



From Gartner report published Dec 16, 2019:

By Peter LiuSylvain FabreKosei Takiishi


As communications service providers move forward with 5G commercialization, New Radio infrastructure investment is prioritized and crucial for 5G rollout success. We analyze the market direction and the product strategies of equipment vendors to help guide product managers in CSPs.

By 2021, investments in 5G NR network infrastructure will account for 19% of the total wireless infrastructure revenue of communications service providers (CSPs), elevated from 6% in 2019.

5G NR is a new  Radio Access Technology (RAT) developed by 3GPP. There are two key components that are included physically — Next Generation Node B (gNB) and antennas. The Next Generation Node B (gNB) can be further split into two main functional modules — the centralized unit (CU), the distributed unit (DU) which can be deployed in multiple combinations.
There are several key features related to 5G New Radio, which include, but are not limited to:
  • Support for new subcarrier spacing
  • Massive multiple input/multiple output (MIMO)/beamforming
  • Enhanced scheduling by hybrid automatic repeat request (HARQ)
  • Cyclic-prefix orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (CP-OFDM) and discrete fourier transform spread orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (DFTS-OFDM)
  • Bandwidth part (BWP) and carrier aggregation (CA)
The form of 5G NR infrastructure can be microcell, small cell (indoor/outdoor) and macrocell.
Gartner defines 5G using the 3GPP standard body definition. 5G New Radio (NR) is a new Radio Access Technology (RAT) developed by 3GPP for the  fifth generation (5G) mobile network. It was designed to be the global standard for the air interface of 5G networks. 5G New Radio infrastructure in this Market Guide refers to the 3GPP 5G RAN architecture — specified in Release 15 and known as NG-RAN. There are two key components included physically — 5G radio base station (gNBs) and antennas. The 5G radio base stations (gNBs) can be further split into three main functional modules — the centralized unit (CU), the distributed unit (DU) and the radio unit (RU) — which can be deployed in multiple combinations.
There are several key features related to 5G New Radio, which include but are not limited to:
  • New Radio spectrum
  • Optimized orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM)
  • Adaptive beamforming
  • Massive MIMO
  • Spectrum sharing
  • Unified design across frequencies
The form of 5G NR infrastructure can be microcell, small cell (indoor/ outdoor) and macrocell.

Key Findings:

  • The deployment of 5G New Radio (NR) products will accelerate in 2020, through high total cost of ownership (TCO), absence of “killer application,” unmatured millimeter wave ecosystem and inexpensive device availability that prevent rapid growth in capital investment.
  • Most of current commercial 5G sub-6 gigahertz (GHz) communications service providers (CSPs) also start building their multiband strategy which is in line with their business strategy; for example, sub-1GHz for coverage enhancement and millimeter wave for capacity.
  • Initial 5G deployment was based on non-stand-alone (NSA) architecture which couples the Long Term Evolution (LTE) with 5G NR radio layers to accelerate time to market and reduce cost. This coexistence will last for many years, though specific CSPs may move toward stand-alone (SA) deployment as early as 2020.
  • Open radio access network (RAN) and virtualized RAN (vRAN) have seen an increase in attention after Rakuten Mobile announced its commercial adoption in LTE. However, fragmented standards, incumbent vendor support, technology immaturity and poor fiber availability continue to hamper its success.

Market Description

Global 5G infrastructure market is expected to witness significant growth over the coming years. 5G technology has the potential to support capabilities such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation and the Internet of Things (IoT), apart from the high-speed network performance. Thus, with growing internet penetration and rapidly increasing mobile users, healthy growth would be seen in the years to come in the global 5G infrastructure market.
However, although the pace of 5G is significantly more accelerated than 4G, we all acknowledge it will be a marathon. CSPs are still very cautious and fast adoption today does not necessarily equal fast deployment in scale. While CSPs are still seeking killer applications and are under increasing financial pressures due to the expensive spectrum, they also recognize that 5G deployment is more challenging than before. Higher frequencies, combining LTE and 5G together, as well as NSA and SA cores, is proving to be a complex undertaking.
Despite some uncertainty brought about by geopolitical challenges, overall, current NSA setup largely benefits the existing dominant LTE vendors such as Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia, Samsung and ZTE — since it is the most cost-effective way to deliver 5G on board. Other key criteria important to CSPs include:
  • Baseband unit capacity
  • Portfolio broadness
  • Deployment feasibility
  • Technology evolution
This provides less opportunities for niche vendors promoting their open RAN concept in the short term. The situation will be improved when SA and small cell have been deployed. From a spectrum perspective, for the higher bands (particularly mmWave), the main issue is the ability to acquire large numbers of suitable sites and deliver the coverage people expect. For midband (sub-6Ghz) deployments, this issue is not as significant due to the ability to reuse sites, for the most part. For frequency division duplex (FDD) bands, complete reuse is, of course, possible.
5G is already available in many major cities, with more coverage expected in 2020. Given the momentum for 5G, Gartner forecast calls for growth in carrier infrastructure spending in 2019 and faster growth in 2020. Considering majority deployment will be based on non-stand-alone architecture, 5G NR infrastructure will represent the biggest portion of the 5G investment.
Despite the hype around 5G, CSPs are looking for a practical 5G implementation strategy that allows them to quickly launch Phase 1 5G services (enhanced mobile broadband [eMBB], fixed wireless access [FWA]) in a cost-efficient way. Decisions on where, when and which vendors to work with are driven by commercial considerations and are also related to spectrum availability, deployment feasibility as well as ecosystem maturity.
5G Application Has Different Time Scales

Recommendations for 5G Communications Service Providers (CSPs):

To better enable infrastructure delivery strategies, product managers should:
  • Build a step-wise 5G NR implementation strategy by initially focusing on best use of existing infrastructure investment, then simplifying the deployment in order to reduce the time to market and minimize risk.
  • Develop spectrum strategies based on business focus, frequencies available as well as ecosystem maturity. Choose the vendors that have preferred radio spectrum support with combinations of spectrum reframing and sharing.
  • Select the 5G NR solution by accessing a vendor’s capabilities of interworking with existing 4G/LTE networks and its ability to provide a high degree of continuity and seamless experience for users. In addition, explore a seamless software upgrade path to enable 5G SA evolution.
  • Build an end-to-end understanding of the Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) impact on network, operations, performance and procurement by conducting a proof of concept (POC)/pilot.


Acronym Key and Glossary Terms

second generation
third generation
Third Generation Partnership Project
fourth generation
fifth generation
Active Antenna Unit
artificial intelligence
augmented reality
application-specific integrated circuit
baseband unit
bandwidth part
cloud radio access network
carrier aggregation
capital expenditure
Citizens Broadband Radio Service
coordinated multipoint
cyclic-prefix orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing
customer premises equipment
communications service provider
centralized unit
Digital/Analog Front End
discrete fourier transform spread orthogonal frequency-division multiple access
digital indoor system
distributed unit
enhanced Common Public Radio Interface
enhanced mobile broadband
Evolved Packet Core
frequency division duplex
fixed wireless access
gigabits per second
Next Generation Node B
hybrid automatic repeat request
infrastructure and operations
instantaneous bandwidth (ZTE)
integrated circuit
information and communication technology
International Mobile Telecommunications-2020
Internet of Things
International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication Sector
Licensed Assisted Access
Long Term Evolution
LTE Vehicle
Multiple Input/Multiple Output Adaptive Antenna
machine learning
multiple input/multiple output
Massive Machine Type Communications
millimeter wave (frequencies above 24GHz)
multioperator core network
multicarrier radio access network
Multi-Operator Servers (Mavenir)
network function virtualization
New Radio
Open Radio Access Network
occupied bandwidth
original equipment manufacturer
orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing
operating expenditure
proof of concept
physical resource blocks
quadrature amplitude modulation
research and development
radio access network
Radio Access Technology
RAN Intelligent Controller (Nokia)
radio frequency
Radio Frequency Integrated Circuit
remote radio unit
radio unit
software-defined network
software-defined radio
self-organizing network
Low-band frequencies are those at 600MHz, 800MHz, and 900MHz.
Frequencies under 6GHz but above the low-band frequencies (2.5GHz, 3.5GHz, and 3.7GHz to 4.2GHz).
Supplementary Uplink
total cost of ownership
Time Division-Long Term Evolution
time division duplex
Ultra Broadband RRU (ZTE)
ultrareliable and low-latency communications
virtual reality
virtualized radio access network
Work Group 2
Work Group 3
Evidence has been collected from:
  • Gartner surveys
  • CSP and vendor briefings, plus discussions
  • Associated Gartner research
  • Gartner market forecasts
  • Gartner client discussions


References- related Gartner posts:

Gartner: Telecom at the Edge + Distributed Cloud in 3 Stages

Gartner Group Innovation & Insight: Cutting Through the 5G Hype

Gartner: Telecom at the Edge + Distributed Cloud in 3 Stages

Source: Gartner report on Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2020

Communicating to the Edge — The Role of 5G
Connecting edge devices with one another and with back-end services is a fundamental aspect of IoT and an enabler of smart spaces. 5G is the next-generation cellular standard after 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE; LTE Advanced [LTE-A] and LTE Advanced Pro [LTE-A Pro]).

Several global standards bodies have defined it — International Telecommunication Union (ITU), 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) [NOT A STANDARDS BODY] and ETSI [Has submitted their IMT 2020 RIT to ITU-R WP5D jointly with DECT Forum].

Successive iterations of the 5G standard also will incorporate support for NarrowBand Internet of Things (NB-IoT) aimed at devices with low-power and low-throughput requirements. New system architectures include core network slicing as well as edge computing.
5G addresses three key technology communication aspects, each of which supports distinct new services, and possibly new business models (such as latency as a service):

■ Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), which most providers will probably implement first.
■ Ultra-reliable and low-latency communications (URLLC), which addresses many existing industrial, medical, drone and transportation requirements where reliability and latency requirements surpass bandwidth needs.
■ Massive machine-type communications (mMTC), which addresses the scale requirements of IoT edge computing.

Use of higher cellular frequencies and massive capacity will require very dense deployments with higher frequency reuse. As a result, we expect that most public 5G deployments will initially focus on islands of deployment, without continuous national coverage. We expect that, by 2020, 4% of network-based mobile communications service providers globally will launch the 5G network commercially. Many CSPs are uncertain about the nature of the use cases and business models that may drive 5G. We expect that, through 2022, organizations will use 5G mainly to support IoT communications, high-definition video and fixed wireless access. The release of unlicensed radio spectrum (Citizens Broadband Radio Service [CBRS] in the U.S., and similar initiatives in the U.K. and Germany) will facilitate the deployment of private 5G (and LTE) networks.

This will enable enterprises to exploit the advantages of 5G technology without waiting for public networks to build out coverage. Identify use cases that definitely require the high-end performance, low latency or higher densities of 5G for edge computing needs.

Map the organization’s planned exploitation of such use cases against the expected rollout by providers through 2023. Evaluate the available alternatives that may prove adequate and more cost-effective than 5G for particular IoT use cases. Examples include low-power wide-area (LPWA), such as 4G LTE-based NB-IoT or LTE Cat M1, LoRa, Sigfox and Wireless Smart Ubiquitous Networks (Wi-SUN).

Distributed Cloud examines a major evolution in cloud computing where the applications, platforms, tools, security, management and other services are physically shifting from a centralized data center model to one in which the services are distributed and delivered at the point of need. The point of need can extend into customer data centers or all the way to the edge devices.

A distributed cloud refers to the distribution of public cloud services to different locations outside the cloud providers’ data centers, while the originating public cloud provider assumes responsibility for the operation, governance, maintenance and updates. This represents a significant shift from the centralized model of most public cloud services and will lead to a new era in cloud computing.

Concept of Distributed Cloud:

Concept of distributed cloud. 


Gartner expects distributed cloud computing will happen in three phases:

■ Phase 1: A like-for-like hybrid mode in which the cloud provider delivers services in a distributed fashion that mirror a subset of services in its centralized cloud for delivery in the enterprise.
■ Phase 2: An extension of the like-for-like model in which the cloud provider teams with third parties to deliver a subset of its centralized cloud services to target communities through the third-party provider. An example is the delivery of services through a telecommunications
provider to support data sovereignty requirements in smaller countries where the provider does not have data centers.
■ Phase 3: Communities of organizations share distributed cloud substations. We use the term“substations” to evoke the image of subsidiary stations (like branch post offices) where people gather to use services.

Cloud customers can gather at a given distributed cloud substation to
consume cloud services for common or varied reasons if it is open for community or public use.  This improves the economics associated with paying for the installation and operation of a distributed cloud substation. As other companies use the substation, they can share the cost of
the installation.

We expect that third parties such as telecommunications service providers will explore the creation of substations in locations where the public cloud provider does not have a presence. If the substation is not open for use by others outside the organization that paid for its installation, then the substation represents a private cloud instance in a hybrid relationship with the public cloud. The distributed cloud supports continuously connected and intermittently connected operation of like-for-like cloud services from the public cloud “distributed” to specific and varied locations. This enables low-latency service execution where the cloud services are closer to the point of need in remote data centers or all the way to the edge device itself.

This can deliver major improvements in performance and reduce the risk of global network-related outages, as well as support occasionally connected scenarios. By 2024, most cloud service platforms will provide at least some services that execute at the point of need.


Gartner Group Innovation & Insight: Cutting Through the 5G Hype

Gartner Analysis & Predictions: Enterprise Network Infrastructure and Services

by Bjarne Munch | To Chee Eng | Greg Young | Danellie Young | Vivek Bhalla | Andrew Lerner |Danilo Ciscato of Gartner Group


This new Gartner Group report is on the key impacts of digital business, cloud and orchestration strategies. In particular, IT leaders must continue to focus on meeting enterprise needs for expanded WAN connectivity, application performance and improved network agility, without compromising performance.

Key Findings:

  • As enterprises increasingly rely on the internet for WAN connectivity, they are challenged by the unpredictable nature of internet services.
  • Enterprises seeking more agile WAN services continue to be blocked by network service providers’ terms and conditions.
  • Enterprises seeking more agile network solutions continue to be hampered by manual processes and cultural resistance.
  • Enterprise’s moving applications to public cloud services frequently struggle with application performance issues.


IT leaders responsible for infrastructure agility should:

  • Reduce the business impact of internet downtime by deploying redundant WAN connectivity such as hybrid WAN for business-critical activities.
  • Improve WAN service agility by negotiating total contractual spend instead of monthly or annual spend.
  • Improve agility of internal network solutions by introducing automation of all operations using a step-wise approach.
  • Ensure the performance of cloud-based applications by using carriers’ cloud connect services instead of unpredictable internet services.
  • Improve alignment between business objectives and network solutions by selectively deploying intent-based network solutions.

Strategic Planning Assumptions:

Within the next five years, there will be a major internet outage that impacts more than 100 million users for longer than 24 hours.

  • By 2021, 25% of enterprise telecom contracts will evolve to allow for greater flexibility such as canceling services or introducing new services within the contract period, up from less than 5% today.
  • By 2021, productized network automation (NA) tools will be utilized by 55% of organizations, up from less than 15% today.
  • By YE20, more than 30% of organizations will connect to cloud providers using alternatives to the public internet, which is a major increase from 5% in 3Q17.
  • By 2020, more than 1,000 large enterprises will use intent-based networking systems in production, up from less than 15 today.


Gartner Group has five predictions that represent fundamental changes that are emerging in key network domains, from internal networking to cloud services and WAN services.

two key aspects that the majority of Gartner clients struggle with:

  1. The increased interest in utilizing the internet for WAN connectivity continues to raise concerns about the performance of public internet services and performance of applications deployed in public cloud services. We discuss the risk that enterprises encounter due to the unpredictable nature of the internet, and we discuss how an enterprise can use MPLS to connect directly to public cloud services instead of using the internet.
  2. Enterprises continue to need new business solutions deployed faster, but remain hampered by the inability of network solutions and network services to respond fast enough and rectify performance issues fast enough. We discuss three options to improve network operations as well as network services.
Figure 1. Five Predicts to Create a Better Enterprise Network

Enlarge Image

Source: Gartner (December 2017)

Strategic Planning Assumptions

Strategic Planning Assumption: Within the next five years, there will be a major internet outage that impacts more than 100 million users for longer than 24 hours.

Analysis by: Andrew Lerner, Greg Young

Key Findings:

  • We are increasingly seeing organizations use the internet as a WAN, and estimate that approximately 20% of Gartner clients in many geographic regions have at least some critical branch locations entirely connected via the internet.
  • Most IT teams don’t have a detailed understanding of the multitude of applications and services that are being used on the public internet and/or their criticality. This is because of years of line of business (LOB)-centric buying and the proliferation of SaaS.
  • While the internet is highly resilient, there are specific infrastructure and technology hot spots that, if compromised, could threaten the internet as a whole or large portions of it. This could be the result of natural disasters, man-made accidents or intentional acts.
  • Natural disasters and man-made acts that could impact large portions of the internet include earthquakes, solar flares, electronic pulses, meteors, tsunamis, hurricanes, major cable cuts and network operator errors.
  • Intentional acts include hacktivism, terrorism toward critical infrastructure, and/or coordinated distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, attacks against carrier- and ISP-specific components, and protocols (e.g., SS7).

While the probability of each of these events individually is small, the likelihood that at least some of them will occur over an extended period of time is actually surprisingly high. For example, even if there is only a 1% chance that any of the 11 examples identified above results in an outage within a year, there is a statistical likelihood of over 45% that at least one of them will occur over a five-year period. Further, to date, there have been indications that the internet is vulnerable to sizable outages:

  • In 2008, millions of users and large portions of the Middle East and India were impacted by a cable cut. 1
  • In 2016, a large DDOS attack resulted in many large e-commerce sites going down, including Twitter, Netflix, Reddit and CNN. 2
  • In 2015, Telekom Malaysia created a routing problem that rendered much of the Level 3 network unavailable. 3
  • It has been widely reported that 70% of all internet traffic goes thru Northern Virginia 4 and, while this might be an overstated, there’s no doubt that there are several major chokepoints in the internet infrastructure.

Market Implications:

At a minimum, an extended and widespread internet outage would cause dramatic revenue loss for enterprises, and could even create life-threating situations depending on what business the organizations is in. Initially, many organizations often brush this off by saying, “Well there’s not much we can do about it anyway” or “If there is a large internet outage due to a natural disaster, then personal safety is the priority and the enterprise connectivity is the least of our concerns.” However, there are very specific and actionable items that infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders should take to mitigate the impact of a large outage.

Strategic Planning Assumption: By 2021, 25% of enterprise telecom contracts will evolve to allow for greater flexibility such as canceling services or introducing new services within the contract period, up from less than 5% today.

Analysis by: Danellie Young

Key Findings:

  • Enterprise telecom contracts are typically fixed in both term duration and for the services required for procurement.
  • Most larger revenue contracts ($1 million annually) require the enterprise to agree to minimum revenue commitments on an annual basis.
  • Major WAN decisions are made by 31% to 47% of enterprises each year, including equipment refresh or carrier renegotiations (assuming the refresh cycle on routers is six years, and the average enterprise WAN service contract is three years).
  • A large majority of enterprises are struggling with the cost, performance and flexibility of their traditional WAN contracts, further exacerbated by the proliferation of public cloud applications.

Market Implications:

Enterprise telecom contracts remain rigid and fixed, with specified services required to ensure compliance. Typically such contracts penalize customers when services are disconnected midterm. Enterprise telecom contracts are typically negotiated on 36-month cycles, based on either full-term or revenue commitments. Revenue commitments are set based on monthly spend, annual spend or total contract spending. Upon meeting the contract’s revenue commitment, the enterprise can then renegotiate or consider alternative services or providers since their financial obligation has been met. Terminating contracts early for convenience will typically levy penalties on the enterprise. These penalties range from 100% of the monthly recurring charges (MRCs) to a percentage of the MRCs to a declining portion through the remainder of the term (i.e., 100% in the first 12 months, 75% in months 13 to 24 and 50% through the end of the term).

Currently, contracts are split between term and revenue commit contracts, whereby most of the revenue commitments are made on an annualized basis. Alternatively, a small number (5%) are offered or negotiated with total contract values tied to them. Total contract revenue commitments enable the enterprise to meet the obligation earlier in their contract and provide the opportunity to negotiate new lower rates and a new contract, and to solicit competitive proposals before the full 36-month cycle terminates.

In addition to traditional voice and data services, many networking vendors now offer SD-WAN functionality products, while carriers and managed service providers (MSPs) are beginning to launch and roll out managed SD-WAN services as an alternative to managed routers. Contract flexibility will be needed to allow the enterprise the flexibility to migrate to new solutions, without financial risk or paying early termination fees on services. Thus, while we anticipate rapid adoption of SD-WAN and virtualized customer premises equipment (vCPE) solutions in the enterprise, SD-WAN by itself will not improve contractual conditions.