International Data Corporation (IDC) released its inaugural report for the worldwide 5G network infrastructure market for the period 2018 to 2022. IDC forecasts that the total 5G and 5G-related network infrastructure market will grow from about $528 million in 2018 to $26 billion in 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 118 percent.
The report, Worldwide 5G Network Infrastructure Forecast, 2018-2022 covers technology including 5G radio access network (RAN), 5G core, network functions virtualization infrastructure (NFVI), next generation routing and switching, and optical backhaul. IDC expects 5G RAN to be the largest market sub-segment through the forecast period, in line with prior mobile generations.
The initial report does not attempt to assess the market share of various vendors, said IDC senior research analyst Patrick Filkins. He said it’s too early for that. “Depending on who you talk to, they’ll tell you they’re number one in 5G,” said Filkins. There are also shifts happening in the vendor landscape as a result of Huawei’s and ZTE’s troubles in the United States and elsewhere. Samsung seems to be benefitting, but IDC’s initial report doesn’t go there.
Filkins said the Tier 1 carriers that are procuring equipment and software for 5G are not following any particular pattern. “All operators are in different phases of network upgrades,” he said. “Some have made big purchases. There is a lot going on in one procurement: hardware, orchestration software, and mix in some optical. The early guys are throwing everything in the bowl and mixing.”
For example, in September T-Mobile signed a $3.5 billion deal with Ericsson for 5G gear. T-Mobile has said it plans to launch 5G in 30 markets nationwide in 2019. The contract includes Ericsson’s 5G platform and its radio portfolio, which includes radios that operate across a variety of spectrum bands. And the deal includes backend software such as Ericsson’s dynamic orchestration, business support services, and its cloud core.
Carriers are also repurposing infrastructure when possible. In T-Mobile’s case, it plans to update its existing installed base of Ericsson radios to run 5G NR by updating the software.
Filkins added, “Early 5G contracts indicate service providers recognize that 5G is about much more than just radio builds. To infuse operational efficiency, many are allocating spend in adjacent technologies, such as orchestration, and infrastructure management software.”
IDC also expects NFVI to play a big part in 5G wireless. In August IDC issued its first NFVI report, Worldwide Telecom Network Functions Virtualization Infrastructure Forecast, 2018-2022. It forecasts that from a domain perspective, wireless infrastructure is the largest contributor to the NFVI forecast today and will continue to be the largest contributor throughout the forecast.