The RAN optimisation market is set to grow by more than 50 percent to $6.3 billion by 2020, as operators turn to it as a solution to untangle increasingly sophisticated networks.
A report from ABI Research said operators were facing a challenge in dealing with greater numbers of small cells, picocells and femtocells, as well as technology like distributed antenna systems and C-RAN.
Lian Jye Su, Research Analyst at ABI Research, said: “Out of the six solutions addressed, we expect automatic cell planning to grow the fastest, increasing by more than 18 percent year-on-year by 2020. Traditional optimisation solutions, such as RF and KPI optimisation and performance management, will start to decline in 2017 and be replaced by more automated solutions, such as automatic cell planning and self-organising network.”
The report highlighted the contrasting strategies of Ericsson and Nokia. Ericsson focuses on developing in-house knowledge and recently partnered with Cisco while Nokia, through its Alcatel-Lucent buy, grows through acquisition.
Su added: “Given the current trends and growth trajectories, we believe that there will be even more consolidation in the near future. While Huawei and ZTE will continue to grow, smaller vendors will either continue to merge with companies that offer full suites of services or gain ground as niche players before being bought out by top tier vendors.”
ABI said while growth will occur in both developed and developing markets, the latter will grow at a quicker rate with Latin America and Asia behind North America as the fastest growing areas.
Su said: “As MNOs can ill afford to maintain a highly complex network without a large pool of engineers, this is an opportunity for smart, automatic network optimization solutions to help mobile operators reduce capex and opex.”