5G network status report and technology predictions

Research firm Dell’Oro Group has updated the status on 5G for 2020, while TrendForce has revealed its technology predictions for 2021.
Deutsche Telekom 5G networkDell’Oro Group report on 5G status in 2020

The upside in 5G NR deployment, especially in China, Korea, and the US, will be more than enough to offset declining LTE investments, propelling the overall RAN (2G-5G) market for a third consecutive year of healthy growth. LTE Capex will decline more than 20 percent in 2020.

5G SA and 5G core is now a reality. 5G Core revenues accounted for nearly 15 percent of overall Mobile Core Network Revenues, underpinned by strong developments in the APAC region.

“The ramp-up in the second half of 2020 has already begun, with T-Mobile commercially launching its 5G Standalone network in August, recognizing Cisco and Nokia, as their 5GC suppliers,” said Dave Bolan, Dell’Oro 5G Core, and MEC Expert.

Preliminary estimates suggest combined macro and small cell transceiver shipments for non-Massive MIMO and Massive MIMO configured systems was already in the 50 million to 100 million range for the 1H20 period. Total transceiver shipments is projected to surpass 0.1 billion in 2020.

Mobile operators are looking for key benefits from Dynamic Spectrum Sharing including 1) Accelerate nationwide coverage, 2) Spectral efficiency upside comparing NR and LTE, 3) Overall performance upside using CA, and 4) Simplify and accelerate the transition towards 5G SA.

DSS can impact the net capacity. Operators know that there are only three paths to move from 4G to 5G with the existing LTE spectrum — re-farming, static sharing, and DSS. Unless the goal is to stay on LTE, the reality is that the picture becomes more favorable when comparing DSS with static sharing.

According to Ericsson, the relative performance upside with both the LTE and 5G NR traffic when comparing DSS with static sharing at various subscriber penetration rates is material (for a 50 percent NR penetration, Ericsson estimates the LTE and NR upside could be around 86 percent and 57 percent, respectively).

Swisscom and Verizon have already deployed DSS nearly nationwide. AT&T is also using DSS to expand its low-band coverage. Deutsche Telekom said with its 2Q20 update that its low-band 5G network will cover two-thirds of the German population by the end of 2020, relying heavily on DSS.

Ericsson said earlier in the year that 80 percent of customers that are testing DSS have plans to deploy the technology over the next year.

5G NR indoor revenues will surpass LTE pico investments. While shipments were impacted negatively sequentially between 4Q19 and 1Q20, partly due to COVID-19, market conditions improved significantly during 2Q20 propelling the overall 1H20 indoor 5G NR revenues to advance more than 10x.

The outdoor mmW market has surprised on the upside while the indoor mmW market has taken a bit longer to ramp. The total mmW market remains on track to surpass 0.1 M units and is expected to account for 5 percent to 10 percent of the overall 5G NR small cell installed base by the end of 2020.

MBB continues to dominate the 5G Capex. LTE IoT is picking up the pace and remains on track to comprise a low-single-digit share of the 2020 LTE RAN market. 5G IoT is moving in the right direction. 5G MBB remains on track to account for more than 97 percent of the 5G NR market.

Estimates suggest the 1H20 5G NR HHI was about 5 percent to 10 percent greater than the overall RAN HHI, underpinning projections that large scale 5G NR deployments in China are impacting the 5G RAN landscape.

According to the GSA, 5G subscriptions approached 138 million in the second quarter. Total 5G subscriptions may surpass 0.2 billion this year.

TrendForce predictions for 2021

Global mobile network operators will focus on network coverage and service expansion in 2021.

DSS technology has gradually become the key to mobile network operators’ 5G strategies because it allows operators to quickly achieve nationwide 5G coverage by activating their 5G networks in the 4G spectrum.

Global IC design revenue will touch $96.737 billion in 2021, registering 5.4 percent increase, despite the risk posed by the China-U.S. trade war in the past two years.

5G commercialization will revitalize the data center industry and galvanize a wave of growth in micro data centers and edge computing, but also become the primary focus of the data center industry from 2021 to 2025, being utilized across IoT and V2X applications.

Global data center build-outs have become the primary driver of DRAM bit demand in recent years, with server DRAM accounting for more than 50 percent of total DRAM bit consumption and more than 30 percent of DRAM bit shipment.

5G smartphone production will likely exceed 500 million units, with an almost 40 percent penetration rate.

The focus of the smartphone industry will revolve around 5G, and as mobile processor manufacturers expand their 5G offerings from the high-end to the entry-level and mid-range segments.

Given that the global coverage of 5G base stations will be unlikely reach 50 percent until 2025 at the earliest, the arrival of the high-speed, high-bandwidth era may take place even later.


Imports of mobile phone base stations and equipment dipped 10.4 percent lower in the three months to Aug. 31 compared to a year earlier after dropping 15.2 percent in 2019. Shipments from China have fallen 27.0 percent in the past three months while those from Mexico increased 15.1 percent.

Seaborne import shipments linked to Flex Ltd. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. dropped 94.1 percent and 68.0 percent, respectively, in the third quarter versus a year earlier, while those linked to CommScope Holding Co. Inc. dropped 44.7 percent.