5G will drive multi-billion dollar rise in mobile radio spending

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Demand for 5G and Massive MIMO equipment will see worldwide spending on mobile radio infrastructure reach $191 billion by 2026, according to ABI Research.

Operators around the globe are planning or deploying 5G networks, hoping the promise of ultrafast speeds, enhanced capacity and ultra-low latency will deliver superior mobile broadband for consumers and entirely new applications for businesses.

Achieving these network characteristics requires an unprecedented degree of technological complexity and diversity. 5G networks will be powered by a combination of macro and micro radio infrastructure, be largely software-defined, and use a variety of spectrum.

5G radio spending

This rearchitecting process is driving the market. ABI Research says network densification programmes and demand for mMIMO technologies will account for 73% of all outdoor equipment expenditure within five years. Meanwhile in-building wireless kit will account for 22% of vendor revenues within the same period.

“mMIMO enable Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to offer the best-in-class service to end users while leveraging cell site infrastructure and spectrum assets acquired for 5G,” said Johanna Alvarado, Senior Analyst at ABI Research.

“The adoption of the different configurations depends on multiple factors such as user density, cell site characteristics, local regulations, and clutter features.”

Another major trend in the market is the use of open radio gear. OpenRAN is a vendor-neutral approach with standardised designs that allow a variety of firms to supply hardware and software. Operators believe this can increase innovation, reduce costs, and reduce dependency on the ‘big three’ of Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia.

ABI Research says the segment will grow at an average annual rate of 126.7% by 2026, accounting for 17.6% of total outdoor revenues at $23.26 billion.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.