Two analysts predict Open RAN will dominate market by end of decade

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Coming soon to a mast near you: ABI Research reckons it will have 75% of market by 2030; Rethink Research says 58% by 2026.

ABI Research reports the Open RAN movement is gaining momentum, attracting more operators, new market entrants, systems integrators and applications to collaborate on its development.

The intention is to replace the decades old tightly integrated, proprietary approach to RAN, which the operators argue is too expensive, and obstructs competition and innovation.

ABI Research expects total spending on Open RAN radio units (RUs) for the public outdoor macrocell network will reach US$69.5 billion in 2030, with cumulative unit shipments expected to reach 15.7 million

Indoor driver

Meanwhile, the total revenue of Open RAN RUs for enterprise indoor small cell network will could reach US$39.8 billion in 2030, with cumulative unit shipments expected to reach 205.5 million.

Jiancao Hou, 5G and Mobile Network Infrastructure Senior Analyst at ABI Research, said, “Powered by network virtualization, Open RAN will help network operators and various industrial enterprise verticals enable network automation and intelligent radio resource control, therefore reducing network integration expenses and operational complexity.”

He added, “A robust ecosystem and supply diversity will remove fears and potential security threats to governments and network operators whose telco infrastructures were initially supplied by one or two big vendors, which has led to the unpredictable disruption of supply chains.

The other Gs

“ABI Research expects that 2G/3G and 4G will be the mainstream focus of Open RAN in the next few years, while 5G Open RAN systems are being developed and matured. Advanced 5G features, including massive MIMO, dynamic spectrum sharing, and wide-band carrier aggregation, are still single-vendor solutions and will likely remain so for the immediate future”.

Hou continued, “On the other hand, several chipset vendors and new entrants are now creating development and processing platforms that will likely power the next wave of innovation in Open RAN. Many unique features of Open RAN can also beneficial for industrial enterprise verticals to build private cellular networks. These features include infrastructure reconfigurability, network sustainability, time to innovations, and deployment cost”.

Never mind the hype

RAN Research, part of Rethink Research, says Open RAN will account for 58% of total RAN CapEx spending at $32.3 billion and be deployed at 65% of all sites by 2026 “despite overhype and uncertainty over which standards will prevail”.

In 2020-2023, RAN Research thinks only 17% of established mobile operators will deploy an open RAN for any purpose, but 39% of alternative and greenfield deployers will adopt it fully in this early phase.
In alignment with ABI’s predictions, RAN Research expects enterprise small cell networks will be a particularly strong driver and proving ground for Open RAN.