A research report from Dell’Oro Group has highlighted that investment in Open RAN projects has achieved 5x growth during the first quarter of 2021.
Total Open RAN revenues are expected to nearly double in 2021. The report did not reveal the specific revenue of Open RAN business.
Open RAN revenues include O-RAN and OpenRAN compatible macro and small cells radios plus baseband hardware and software.
The Asia Pacific (APAC) region is driving the Open RAN market. Macro is dominating but small cell adoption is improving. The Open RAN Massive MIMO landscape is evolving.
Mobile operators in the APAC region are largely behind the surge, underpinned by a fairly synchronized migration from proprietary RAN towards Open RAN in Japan. Rakuten now has some 50 K radios up and running in Japan. Other Japanese operators are increasingly optimistic about O-RAN and the role open interfaces will play with more advanced radio deployments.
Macro deployments are dominating the Open RAN revenue mix both globally and in APAC, reflecting the state of the overall RAN market and the current focus by operators deploying Open RAN. Macro RAN is the primary target for the operators, Stefan Pongratz at Dell’Oro Group said.
The deployment of Open RAN small cell is increasing driven by millimeter wave (mmWave) deployments in Japan. Multiple operators are now embracing the benefits of combining the higher spectrum with the sub 6 GHz bands.
The traditional top 5 RAN vendors such as Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia, ZTE, and Samsung are dominating the $10 billion + Massive MIMO RAN market, Dell’Oro Group said.
MTN Consulting said Open RAN had appeal even before Huawei’s loss of standing, as part of a broader movement towards network disaggregation. However, without Huawei as a leader in the mobile RAN, few telecoms want to rely on just two large suppliers such as Ericsson and Nokia for this central aspect of their operations.
Open RAN proponents are optimistic the recent uptick in O-RAN related announcements will eventually lead to an improved supplier landscape. The asynchronous availability of the upper mid-band spectrum offers a window of opportunity for new entrants, Dell’Oro Group said.
Even if the Massive MIMO market is mature and highly concentrated, it is not too late for suppliers with weaker RAN shares to use O-RAN combined with SA to enter this segment. The number of suppliers that want to seize on this opportunity to bolster growth is increasing.
Smaller non-top 5 RAN suppliers such as Airspan, Fujitsu, Mavenir, and NEC announced the availability or upcoming GA of O-RAN Massive MIMO antenna systems. Silicon providers are enhancing investments to accelerate the shift towards advanced Open RAN radios.