Asia-Pacific ‘driving huge growth in open RAN’, says Dell’Or

Asia-Pacific ‘driving huge growth in open RAN’, says Dell’Oro

25 May 2021 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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The Asia-Pacific region is driving the surging market for open RAN networks, according to a new survey.

The Dell’Oro group says that total open radio access network (RAN) revenues — including compatible macro-cell and small-cell radios plus baseband hardware and software — increased around five-fold in the first quarter of 2021 over the same period last year.

“The operators in the APAC region are largely behind the surge,” says the report, by Dell’Oro VP Stefan Pongratz. This is “underpinned by a fairly synchronised migration from proprietary RAN towards open RAN in Japan”.

Rakuten now has some 50,000 radios up and running, but “other Japanese operators are increasingly optimistic about O-RAN and the role open interfaces will play with more advanced radio deployments”, he writes.

Macro deployments “are dominating the open RAN revenue mix” both globally and in the Asia-Pacific region, “reflecting the state of the overall RAN market and the current focus by operators deploying open RAN”, says Pongratz’s report.

“At the same time, open RAN small-cell activity is on the rise.” Faster growth with millimetre wave deployments in Japan, are helping to drive this, he writes, “with multiple operators now embracing the benefits of combining the higher spectrum with the sub 6GHz bands”.

The traditional top five RAN vendors — Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia, ZTE and Samsung — still dominate the market for massive MIMO (multiple input multiple output) RAN, which he puts at more than US$10 billion. However, he says “open RAN proponents” believe there will be “an improved supplier landscape”, though he includes the word “eventually”.

He lists Airspan, Fujitsu, Mavenir and NEC as RAN suppliers outside the top five.

Dell’Oro says: “With the strong showing in the first quarter, we are adjusting the short-term outlook upward and now project total open RAN revenues to nearly double in 2021.”