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5G Upgrade Cycle Boosting Resurgence of In-Building Wireless

‘In-Building Wireless 2021’ report from Mobile Experts.

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.

Kyung Mun, principal analyst at Mobile Experts.

“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.”

Mobile Experts Forecasts $6B FWA Market by 2024

The fixed wireless access market is set to exceed $6 billion by 2024, according to a report released by Mobile Experts that details the FWA market drivers. The report breaks down each market segment that will contribute to overall FWA growth of 11 percent CAGR from $3.3 billion in 2018 to over $6.2 billion in 2024.

“The combined 3GPP-based LTE and 5G fixed wireless segments are expected to grow quickly as major mobile operators increasingly look to share increased mobile broadband network capacity for both mobile and fixed broadband services,” said Principal Analyst Kyung Mun. “The 5G fixed segment in particular will explode as operators worldwide look to leverage 5G fixed broadband for new revenue.”

The 5G fixed segment will represent more than 50 percent of the total FWA equipment market and half the total FWA revenue by 2024.

“The growth in fixed wireless access is underpinned by strong demand drivers, including cord-cutting trends, additional spectrum bands coming online, and government subsidy programs worldwide. Plus, the economic ROI continues to improve,” said Mun. “Fundamentally, people in rural areas are not satisfied with broadcast TV anymore and want to stream their media.   Urban residents are desperate for alternatives to cable. The pent-up demand is hard to ignore.”

The report delineates stand-alone FWA opportunities from other cases where mobile and fixed wireless share a network. The 85-page document outlines both rural and urban segments, as well as spectrum opportunities across licensed, shared, and unlicensed bands.  The report covers technology advancements in 802.11ax and 5G, such as MU-MIMO and massive beamforming, which will enable higher throughput capacity and user speeds. Mobile Experts reports that the maturing ecosystems, including Wi-Fi 6, Terragraph, and 5G NR for fixed will broaden the respective 802.11-based and 5G fixed target markets.

Global Private LTE Market to Hit $4.5B in 2023: Report

By J. Sharpe Smith, Senior Editor

Global Private LTE Market will grow from $2.4 billion in 2018 to $4.5 billion by 2023, or a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 13 percent, according to market research released by MarketsandMarkets. The report, released Dec. 12, is titled, “Private LTE Market by Technology (FDD and TDD), Service, Application, Industry and Region – Global Forecast to 2023.”

Vendors in the private LTE market include Nokia, Ericsson, Verizon, Cisco, Samsung, Ruckus Wireless, NetNumber, Lemko, General Dynamics, Future Technologies, pdvWireless, Zinwave, Mavenir and Luminate Wireless, according to MarketsandMarkets.

Mobile Experts released an end-to-end study, CBRS 2018, in November, which provides a complete view of CBRS OnGo market development, including a five-year business model and technical analysis.

“The market for private LTE is very small right now. The equipment manufacturers are interested because it is a whole new class of customers and represent possible growth in a new market,” said Joe Madden, principal analyst, Mobile Experts.

Mobile Experts anticipates rapid growth over the next five years, with annual shipment of over 400,000 small cells for about $740 million in 2023, and more than 550 million handsets, CPEs and IoT devices.

“As the CBRS-enabled smartphones reach a meaningful penetration of the installed base (around 2021-2022), we may see enterprise and neutral host-led indoor deployments to further drive the market,” according to CBRS 2018.

Citizens Broadband Radio Service Will Ignite Private LTE

The FCC adopted a Report and Order “Promoting Investment in the 3550-3700 MHz Band” in October pushing the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) one step further to becoming reality. Some say that CBRS is a watershed moment for how private LTE systems will be deployed in the future.

The Citizens Broadband Radio Service at 3.5 GHz calls for three-tiered shared access between grandfathered incumbent access users, Priority Access Licenses (PALs), and General Authorized Access users.

“The rules bolster our confidence in the likely investment by the mobile and cable operators and lessens enthusiasm of the WISPs, enterprises, and other smaller players who looked forward to getting hands-on lower-cost“licensed” spectrum. Now that the rules are final and clear – i.e., license areas based on county and a 10-year term with renewability – the market is ready for a commercial rollout beyond trials,” according to the Mobile Experts.

While there has been plenty of growth potential and interest in private LTE, it has been held back by lack of spectrum, he said. That should change with the Citizens Broadband Radio Service.

“The beauty of CBRS is that these companies will be able to buy the spectrum at auction in early 2020,” Madden said. “It is perfect for companies, such as oil refineries, that want to own and control their networks.” An auction date for the PALs has not been set yet.

Private LTE Case Studies Already Appearing

This week, Nokia and Ukkoverkot, Finnish provider of 4G mobile data services, began providing a private LTE network to the Finnish Port of HaminaKotka. The port operator Steveco is using the network for improved situational awareness of container handling to warehouse logistics and port security. The dedicated low-latency network enables wirelessly connected cameras on cranes to provide real-time video streaming and analytics, as well as connectivity for trucks, sensors and workers.

American Tower and Ruckus Networks deployed the first commercial CBRS Private LTE network Nov. 9 at the newly-renovated ISM Raceway in Phoenix to expand connectivity in the infield, grandstands, camping grounds and Midway. The new system will complement the existing Wi-Fi system.

Ruckus Wireless was the first to secure FCC CBRS certification for their indoor and outdoor LTE Access Points. The ISM Raceway solution includes the Federated Wireless Spectrum Controller and the Ruckus Q710 and Q910 LTE APs. American Tower also installed the Ruckus T310 series and T610 series outdoor 802.11ac APs.

ExteNet Prepares CBRS-Ready Fixed Wireless Service

Another company that is moving forward on CBRS is ExteNet Systems, which initiated in September a field trial of a FCC Part 96-ready, CBRS LTE fixed wireless network with Inland Cellular, which serves southeastern Washington and north central Idaho. Commercial service rollout is currently targeted for early 2019.

ExteNet’s virtualized LTE Evolved Packet Core (EPC) solution, bundled with Nokia’s Radio Access Network equipment, has served as the foundation for Inland’s 4G LTE service throughout its coverage area since 2016. Inland is now leveraging its existing mobile infrastructure to conduct a field trial with ExteNet on the 3.5 GHz CBRS spectrum to improve customer experience and meet demand connectivity and increased network capacity.

In May, Ericsson Verizon, Qualcomm and Federated Wireless deployed a private LTE system on CBRS spectrum.

Forget About the Internet of Everything!

By J. Sharpe Smith, Senior Editor

Predictions of a single interconnected network, referred to as the Internet of Everything (IoX), that will allow diverse sensors to interact, aren’t going to materialize, according to a recent industry report.

“Many smart applications have emerged, but they are using different networks, because customers are making independent decisions on network technology and devices — meaning the markets are growing more vertically instead of horizontally,” said Joe Madden, principal analyst, Mobile Experts.

But that doesn’t mean that the IoT industry has not matured, according to a recent report, LPWA 2018. During the last two years, IoT has moved from the chaos of having 15 competing wireless formats to the clarity of two front runners, LoRa (which stands for Long Range) for private networks and NB-IoT (Narrowband-IoT), for public networks.

“Overall, we see two major market areas emerging here, with distinct needs for private networks and other requirements for high RF performance and wide coverage,” Madden wrote in the executive summary of the report. “LoRa and NB-IoT are the big winners.”

Mobile Experts studied the economics and business cases of LTE-M versus NB-IoT, LoRa and others such as SigFox and Weightless. The group found that NB-IoT benefits from lower costs for the devices compared with LTE-M.

“LTE-M is not going to be as successful as LoRa and NB-IoT,” Madden said. “NB-IoT benefits from lower cost devices. In Canada, they promoted NB-IoT and developed lower cost chipsets than LTE-M.” The Chinese government is also playing a role in the success of NB-IoT, subsidizing devices and semiconductors. Plus, all three state-owned mobile operators are deploying nationwide NB-IoT networks.

Regardless of RF performance, Madden said that some technologies are favored because they allow enterprises to own and operate their own networks.

“This gives LoRa a major boost, along with a few other unlicensed technologies that focus on specific vertical markets,” he wrote. “LoRa takes best advantage of the private-network business model because of its open ecosystem and good RF/battery performance.”

For more information on LPWA 2018, visit here.

J. Sharpe Smith
Senior Editor/eDigest
J. Sharpe Smith joined AGL in 2007 as contributing editor to the magazine and as editor of eDigest email newsletter. He has 29 years of experience writing about industrial communications, paging, cellular, small cells, DAS and towers. Previously, he worked for the Enterprise Wireless Alliance as editor of the Enterprise Wireless Magazine. Before that, he edited the Wireless Journal for CTIA and he began his wireless journalism career with  Phillips Publishing, now Access Intelligence.  Sharpe Smith may be contacted at: [email protected]

China Will Lead the Way With 5G Deployments at Sub-6 GHz: Mobile Experts

China will lead the world with in sub-6 GHz 5G deployments followed by countries such as Japan, Korea, and northern Europe, according to a new report from Mobile Experts. The United States will join when it has spectrum available, while central/southern Europe and the rest of the world will be slower to respond.

“We see a massive surge in 5G coming in China below 5 GHz,” said Principal Analyst Kyung Mun. “It will be followed by a more incremental rise in other countries around the world. Using our GkM traffic density model and some rigorous ROI analysis, we have demonstrated just how this will happen, and where the growth of 5G will be dissimilar to LTE.”

The Mobile Experts report notes that overall, the integration of Massive MIMO with passive antennas will be key to achieving small size in the RRH. Simply deploying a separate active antenna/radio unit would not be ideal, especially in markets with leased towers where the additional lease space could cost thousands of dollars per month. An appendix included in the report explains multiple example of active-passive antenna products.

“The radio configuration has not settled down yet,” remarked Chief Analyst Joe Madden.   “We see variations ranging from 4T4R to 1024T1024R, at multiple power levels and in multiple bands.   That’s a lot of fragmentation, but we have been able to identify how a few choices that will emerge from the confusion.”

Subscribers to Mobile Experts research will receive the full report, which contains detailed and comprehensive cost analysis for 5G networks and client devices.   It also includes more than 30 photos of each competitor’s Massive MIMO products, as well as competitive analysis of size and power efficiency for each vendor.  The report covers high-level concepts such as Mobile Edge Computing, Cloud RAN architecture, Stand-Alone and Non-Standalone network usage, 5G Synchronization, Network Slicing, and RF semiconductor comparisons.

The 5G forecast provides a clear view of the direction for 5G networks, as well as client devices ranging from handsets to tablets, PCs, CPEs, and IoT devices.

To find out more about this report, click here.