The Mobile Core Network (MCN) market experienced a significant shakeup in the third quarter of 2023, according to the latest report released by Dell’Oro Group.
Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia, and ZTE have emerged as the leading Mobile Core Network vendors. However, the Mobile Core Network market encountered its lowest growth rate in this period, marking a sharp contrast from the robust growth witnessed earlier in the year.
The top 5G Mobile Core Network vendors worldwide for 3Q 2023 were Huawei, Ericsson, ZTE, and Nokia.
The report did not reveal the market share of leading Mobile Core Network vendors.
In a surprising turn, regions that previously dominated the market — Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) along with China — faced a downturn, becoming the weakest performing areas this quarter. Dave Bolan, Research Director at Dell’Oro Group, attributes this unpredictability to various macroeconomic factors such as inflation concerns, unfavorable currency exchange rates, and the volatile geopolitical climate.
One of the key growth drivers for the MCN market has been the transition to 5G Standalone (5G SA) networks, leveraging the 5G Core. However, despite being in the fifth year of the 5G era, the pace of 5G SA deployments has slowed, with more emphasis on 5G Non-Standalone (5G NSA) networks. This shift has resulted in only seven 5G SA networks launched in 2023, a decrease from the 17 deployed in 2022.
Dave Bolan anticipates a shift in this trend, forecasting a surge in 5G SA deployments in 2024, leading to a more promising market performance compared to the current year. Notably, two Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) — Telefonica O2 in Germany and Etisalat in the UAE — launched commercial 5G SA networks in the third quarter of 2023.
Ericsson remains at the forefront, serving as the vendor for the 5G packet core in all seven 5G SA networks launched this year. Presently, 45 MNOs have commercially deployed 5G SA enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) networks, reflecting the gradual but steady expansion of this technology.
The MCN market’s roller-coaster trajectory in 2023 underscores the complex interplay of economic, technological, and geopolitical factors. While the current phase appears uncertain, industry experts anticipate a resurgence in 2024 with a greater emphasis on 5G SA deployments, potentially reshaping the landscape of mobile core networks worldwide.