Mobile Experts, a company that tracks virtualization, open radio access network (RAN) revenue and operator capital expense spending, has found that the in-building wireless market reflects increasing use of small cells and that cellular connectivity is providing the motivation for in-building wireless system installations. The company provided market details in its “2021 In-Building Wireless Forecast.”
The company said that according to the report, the lingering effects of COVID-19 have seriously affected enterprise-driven in-building wireless projects such as office buildings and hospitality venues that sat empty for months. Supply chain disruptions brought added challenges to suppliers and system integrators, it said.
“The in-building wireless (IBW) market is at an interesting juncture in its evolution,” said Kyung Mun, a principal analyst. “Despite several significant challenges from COVID-19, operators are making an effort to expand 5G network capacity through the mid-band spectrum — for example, C-band and 2.5 GHz — deployments in North America, which is the largest market for distributed antenna system (DAS) networks. On the brink of the 5G mid-band upgrade cycle, the market is shifting, and this report covers what aspects of the market will win and which aspects will lose in these fluctuations.”
Small cells are capturing a growing share of the overall IBW market, according to Mobile Experts, and the trend will continue despite a DAS resurgence over the next few years from the 5G mid-band upgrade cycle. Mobile Experts foresees the open and virtualized RAN architecture playing a bigger role in private 5G network features around the 2024 timeframe.
“The numbers tell us that in-building cellular connectivity is the dominant use case that drives in-building wireless investments,” Mun said. “We estimate 90 percent of today’s IBW equipment sales from repeaters to DAS and small cells comes from this use case, and public safety and private wireless applications are incrementally adding to the market growth.”