Wednesday, June 28, 2017

ABI forecasts $1.7bn market over 5 yrs for unlicensed/shared spectrum

According to ABI Research's latest Network Evolution in Unlicensed and Shared Spectrum report, which explores the use of unlicensed and shared spectrum, technologies enabling the utilisation of this spectrum type are not only attracting interest from established mobile network operators for low cost network densification, but also from new entrants to the market.

ABI finds that this interest is due to the opportunities that the network technologies offer for densification, neutral hosts, as well as enterprise and private network operators. The research firm predicts that new LTE unlicensed and shared spectrum technologies will create a $1.7 billion hardware market over the next 5 years encompassing LTE Unlicensed, CBRS (citizens broadband radio service) and MulteFire technology.

ABI notes that as a result of the power restrictions inherent with unlicensed and shared spectrum, the technologies are most suitable for small cell indoor or venue deployments. Based on low or no spectrum acquisition costs, plus deployment economics comparable to WiFi, ABI forecasts that demand for in-building wireless penetration in the mid-sized and enterprise verticals will increase dramatically and account for more than half of in-building small cell shipments in 2021.

The research firm reports that numerous companies are developing in technology in this area, ranging from the Spectrum Access System (SAS) providers and Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) operators for CBRS, including Alphabet, CommScope, Federated Wireless, to small cell and infrastructure vendors such as BaiCells, Casa Systems, Ericsson, Huawei, ip.access, Nokia, Ruckus and SpiderCloud.

With regards to CBRS, which uses the 3.5 GHz band, ABI notes that an indication that the technology will transform the in-building wireless and mobile industries is that the CBRS Alliance, which advocates for CBRS technology, counts as members all four major U.S. mobile operators, namely AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint, as well as major MSOs, Comcast and Charter Communications, plus Google, Intel, Nokia and Qualcomm.

Commenting on the report, Nick Marshall, research director at ABI Research, said, "LTE-U/LAA appeals to MNOs planning to densify but with insufficient spectrum or the capex to acquire it… while MulteFire and CBRS promise low network build-out costs with economics that threaten to disrupt the DAS market... the technologies appeal to service providers as CBRS pioneers a significant change in spectrum management…. (and) traditional spectrum refarming cannot match the mobile broadband throughput demands with the migration to 5G".


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