C-RAN Deployment: Market Opportunity Analysis – 2018 and Beyond

Report # CIR-ONO-CRAN-1217
Published Jan 15, 2018

C-RAN Expenditures

This report explores the commercial potential of C-RAN (Cloud or Centralized Radio Access Network), the principal emerging architecture for distributed radio access networks (RANs) used in mobile phone networks.  CIR believes that C-RANs will become essential for 5G mobile networks where they will contribute to both cost reduction and performance improvement.  Not only is the conventional RAN approach expensive in terms of both Opex and Capex, there is also a problem with interference between the base stations.  Mobile service providers in Asia are already reporting 30 to 50 percent Opex reductions. C-RAN deployments will also make a contribution to the essential need for power efficiency in 5G Networks.

In the report CIR discusses how major suppliers of equipment for mobile infrastructure will position themselves for the 5G market using the technology as part of their strategy.  It also examines what functionality the mobile service providers are looking for from future distributed RANs.  Finally, the report examines the size and structure of the market that the arrival of C-RAN will have for the fiber optics, radio communications, and server businesses. As far as the IT aspects are concerned, we include a discussion of how C-RAN is repurposing conventional data center concepts to create a low cost, high reliability, low latency and high bandwidth interconnect network within the BBU pool.

Although CIR believes that C-RAN presents a significant market opportunity going forward, we also explore the factors that are holding it back and how these are likely to change in the future.  One of these factors is fronthaul, which is being completely redesigned for the 5G era.  This report shows how the recent great leap forward in fronthaul technology will positively impact the deployment of C-RAN architectures as latency and synchronization requirements increase.  We also discuss the issues surrounding virtualization in the C-RAN architecture and what that will mean for opportunities for specialized processors and accelerators.

Also included in this report are ten-year market forecasts for revenues and deployments and a thorough discussion of product trends – such as the move to smaller C-RANs – as represented by the announcements from leading vendors. Although, distributed RAN architectures have been around since 3G mobile, the focus of building mobile architecture was on providing broadband connectivity and distributed RANs were not a priority.  With 5G, priorities have changed and C-RAN deployment has become critical.  This report is designed to guide business development executives, product managers, investors and others to where the C-RAN opportunities can be found.

Executive Summary

  • E.1 The Business Case for C-RAN
  • E.2 C-RAN Demand: Pioneer Mobile Operators
  • E.2.1 SK Telecom
  • E.2.2 China Telecom
  • E.3 Six Companies to Watch in C-RAN Technology
  • E.4 Opportunities for the Semiconductor Industry in the C-RAN Market
  • E.5 Opportunities for the Test and Measurement Equipment Industry in the  C-RAN Market
  • E.6 Ten-year Forecasts of the C-RAN Market and Related pportunities

Chapter One: Introduction

  • 1.1 Background to this Report
  • 1.1.1 C-RAN Reduces OPEX: Revenue Generation in the pre-5G Era
  • 1.1.2 C-RAN as 5G Enabler:  A Long-term Opportunity
  • 1.1.3 What Could Possibly go Wrong?
  • 1.2 Objective and Scope of this Report
  • 1.3 Methodology of this Report
  • 1.3.1 Forecast Methodology
  • 1.4 Plan of this Report

Chapter Two: C-RAN Technology and Products 

  • 2.1 C-RAN technology
  • 2.1.1 Origins of C-RAN
  • 2.1.2 The End of the Road for Conventional RAN Architectures
  • 2.2 Comparison of C-RAN with Earlier Architectures
  • 2.3 Four Reasons that Mobile Carriers Will Pay for C-RAN
  • 2.4 C-RAN Beneficiaries
  • 2.5 C-RAN Products and C-RAN Standardization
  • 2.5.1 Key Architectural Components (RRH, BBU, Fronthaul and Servers)
  • 2.5.2 NFV and SDN
  • 2.5.3 Virtualization in C-RANs
  • 2.6 Emerging C-RAN Standards
  • 2.7 C-RAN Functionality and Performance
  • 2.7.1 Resource Allocation in C-RAN
  • 2.7.2 MEC (Mobile Edge Computing/Multi-access Edge Computing)
  • 2.7.3 RANaaS (RAN as a Service)
  • 2.8 Challenges for C-RAN architectures
  • 2.9 C-RAN and the Future of Fronthaul
  • 2.9.1 Fiber Fronthaul in C-RAN
  • 2.9.2 Wireless Fronthaul in C-RAN
  • 2.10 Key Points Made in this Chapter

Chapter Three: Worldwide Deployment Patterns for C-RAN: Ten-Year Forecasts       

  • 3.1 Market Drivers and Barriers for C-RAN
  • 3.1.1 Why the Market is so Bullish on the C-RAN Opportunity
  • 3.1.2 Factors Working Against the C-RAN Opportunity
  • 3.2 C-RAN in 5G Networks Drives Current Interest
  • 3.3 Ten-year Forecasts: An Emerging C-RAN Deployment Roadmap
  • 3.3.1 Forecasting Methodology
  • 3.3.2 China
  • 3.3.3 Other APAC Countries
  • 3.3.4 North America
  • 3.3.5 Europe
  • 3.3.6 Rest of the World
  • 3.3.7 Market for RRHs by Geography
  • 3.3.8 Market for BBUs by Geography
  • 3.3.9 Market for Fronthaul by Geography
  • 3.3.10 Market for IT Expenditure by Geography

Chapter Four: C-RAN Industry Groups   

  • 4.1 xRAN
  • 4.2 Telecom Infra Project (TIP)
  • 4.3 OpenRAN Group
  • 4.4 Open CORD
  • 4.5 Open Networking Foundation (ONF)

Chapter Five: Major Mobile System Providers

  • 5.1 Ericsson (Sweden)
  • 5.1.1 The Future of Ericsson in the 5G Infrastructure Space:  A Combination
  • With Nokia?
  • 5.1.2 Products:  Cloud SDN and Cloud RAN
  • 5.1.3 Product Collaboration with China Mobile Research Institute
  • 5.2 Fujitsu (Japan)
  • 5.2.1 C-RAN Products:  Smart CPRI Transport
  • 5.2.2 CIR’s Take on Fujitsu
  • 5.3 Huawei (China)
  • 5.3.1 Customer Relationship with China Telecom
  • 5.3.2 CIR’s Take on Huawei
  • 5.4 NEC (Japan)
  • 5.4.1 Products:  NFV C-RAN
  • 5.4.2 Product Trials
  • 5.4.3 CIR’s Take on NEC
  • 5.5 Nokia (Finland)
  • 5.5.1 Products:  Nokia Cloud Mobile Gateway
  • 5.5.2 CIR’s Take on Nokia
  • 5.6 Samsung (Korean)
  • 5.6.1 Products:  C-RAN 2.0 and AdaptiV
  • 5.6.2 Product Trials
  • 5.6.3 CIR’s Take on Samsung
  • 5.7 ZTE (China)
  • 5.7.1 Products:  Cloud RAN
  • 5.7.2 CIR’s Take on ZTE

Chapter Six: Connectivity Providers       

  • 6.1 Altiostar (United States)
  • 6.1.1 A Venture Capital-Funded C-RAN Firm
  • 6.1.2 Products:  vRAN Solutions
  • 6.1.3 Product Trials and Collaboration:  SK Telecom, Dali Wireless and Wind River
  • 6.1.4 CIR’s Take on Altiostar
  • 6.2 BLiNQ Networks/CCI (Canada)
  • 6.2.1 Products:  C-RAN-related products
  • 6.2.2 CIR’s Take on BLiNQ
  • 6.3 Ceragon (Israel)
  • 6.3.1 Products:  FibeAir
  • 6.3.2 CIR’s Take on Ceragon
  • 6.4 Clearfield (United States)
  • 6.4.1 CIR’s Take on Clearfield
  • 6.5 CommScope/Airvana (United States)
  • 6.5.1 C-RAN Activities:  OneCell
  • 6.5.2 CIR’s Take on Commscope
  • 6.6 EBlink (France)
  • 6.6.1 Products: FrontLink 58
  • 6.6.2 Products: Partnership with Infinera
  • 6.6.3 CIR’s Take on EBlink
  • 6.7 Intracom Telecom (Greece/Russia)
  • 6.7.1 Products: UltraLink GX80
  • 6.7.2 CIR’s Take on Intracom Telecom
  • 6.8 JMA Wireless (United States)
  • 6.8.1 C-RAN Products
  • 6.8.2 CIR’s Take on JMA Wireless

Chapter Seven: C-RAN Software

  • 7.1 6WIND (France)
  • 7.1.1 6WINDGate
  • 7.1.2 CIR’s Take on 6Wind
  • 7.2 Amarisoft (France)
  • 7.2.1 CIR’s Take on Amarisoft
  • 7.3 Artesyn Embedded Technology (United States)
  • 7.3.1 Products:  MaxCore
  • 7.3.2 CIR’s Take on Artesyn
  • 7.4 Infinera (United States)
  • 7.4.1 C-RAN Products
  • 7.4.2 CIR’s Take on Infinera
  • 7.5 Mavenir (United States)
  • 7.5.1 Products: vEPC
  • 7.5.2 CIR’s Take on Mavenir
  • 7.6 Phluido (United States)
  • 7.6.1 Product Collaboration with Quortus
  • 7.6.2 CIR’s Take on Phluido

Chapter Eight: Chips (ASICs, Processors and Transceivers, WDM, etc.)

  • 8.1 Aquantia (United States)
  • 8.1.1 AQcell
  • 8.1.2 CIR’s Take on Aquantia
  • 8.2 Cavium (United States)
  • 8.2.1 Products:  OCTEOn Fusion
  • 8.2.2 Customers
  • 8.2.3 CIR’s Take on Cavium
  • 8.3 CommAgility (U.K.)
  • 8.3.1 CommAgility’s C-RAN-related Products
  • 8.3.2 CIR’s Take on CommAgility
  • 8.4 eASIC (United States)
  • 8.4.1 Activities in the C-RAN Space
  • 8.4.2 CIR’s Take on eASIC
  • 8.4.3 Intel (United States)
  • 8.4.4 Intel ONP
  • 8.4.5 (Intel PSG)
  • 8.4.6 CIR’s Take on Intel

Chapter Nine: Test Companies 

  • 9.1 Artiza Networks (Japan)
  • 9.1.1 CIR’s Take on Artiza Networks
  • 9.2 Anritsu (Japan)
  • 9.2.1 CIR’s Take on Anritsu
  • 9.3 EXFO (Canada)
  • 9.3.1 C-RAN Related Products
  • 9.3.2 CIR’s Take on EXFO
  • 9.4 Keysight/Anite (United States)

Chapter Ten: Cloud Solutions    

  • 10.1 Argela (Turkey)
  • 10.1.1 Products:  Programmable RANs and SDN
  • 10.1.2 CIR’s Take on Argela
  • 10.2 ASOCS (Israel)
  • 10.2.1 Products:  Cyrus and Mobile Edge Clouds
  • 10.2.2 CIR’s Take on ASOCs
  • Acronyms and Abbreviations Used In this Report
  • About the Authors

List of Exhibits

  • Exhibit E-1: Impacts and Barriers for C-RAN Implementation
  • Exhibit E-2: Six Companies to Watch in the C-RAN Market
  • Exhibit E-3:  C-RAN Revenues by Product Segment ($ Billions)
  • Exhibit E-4:  C-RAN Revenues by Geography ($ Billions)
  • Exhibit E-5:  Specialized Processors and Components for C-RAN Deployments
  • Exhibit 2-1: Conventional RAN Deployment
  • Exhibit 2-2: Base Station and Antenna Configuration for 1G and 2G
  • Exhibit 2-3: BBU and Antenna Configuration for standard 3G and 4G
  • Exhibit 2-4: BBU Pool and Antenna Configuration for C-RAN
  • Exhibit 2-5: Comparison Table of the Three Architectures
  • Exhibit 2-6: C-RAN Deployment with BBUs Pooled at the Data Center
  • Exhibit 2-7: Operators can Share Costs of BBU Pools and Fiber Cabling
  • Exhibit 2-8: Opportunities for Suppliers
  • Exhibit 2-9: Main C-RAN players
  • Exhibit 2-10: C-RAN 5G Trials and Tests Taking Place
  • Exhibit 2-11: Technical Standards for MEC Developed by the ETSI
  • Exhibit 3-1:  C-RAN Revenues in China ($ Millions)
  • Exhibit 3-2:  C-RAN Revenues in Other APAC Countries ($ Millions)
  • Exhibit 3-3:  C-RAN Revenues in North America ($ Millions)
  • Exhibit 3-4:  C-RAN Revenues in Europe ($ Millions)
  • Exhibit 3-5:  C-RAN Revenues in ROW ($ Millions)
  • Exhibit 3-6:  Markets for Remote Radio Heads (RRHs) in C-RAN Architectures by Geography ($ Millions, unless stated)
  • Exhibit 3-7:  Markets for Base Band Units (BBUs) in C-RAN Architectures by
  • Geography ($ Millions, unless stated)
  • Exhibit 3-8:  Fronthaul Expenditures in C-RAN Architectures by Geography
  • ($ Millions, unless stated)
  • Exhibit 3-9:  IT Expenditures in C-RAN Architectures by Geography
  • ($ Millions, unless stated)
  • Exhibit 4-1: ONF Mission
 

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