Future 5G and Wi-Fi opportunities to be driven by private networks

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A surge in private 5G network deployments has been underway for almost two years now, and a study from RAN Research, the wireless forecasting arm of Rethink Technology Research, is predicting that private network uptake will accelerate at a higher rate than public 5G, peaking around 2028 in most markets.

The Private networks driving opportunities in 5G and Wi-Fi  study noted this this peak would arrive about two years earlier in China and some time later in developing areas of Africa and Latin America. Looking at what this could mean in terms of business, the study calculated that by 2028, private 5G network sales and associated services such as installation would generate $23.8bn, before plateauing in 2029 and then subsiding as it reaches saturation, with further deployments being mostly upgrades and extensions.

The forecast looked at what it believed could be the key private network regions and vertical industry sectors, identifying manufacturing followed by healthcare as major drivers of private enterprise 5G early on, but with strong growth across the board and other sectors catching up to varying degrees later. While RAN Research expected manufacturing to account for 19% of all deployments by number of cells installed in 2022, followed by healthcare on 11%, the respective figures for 2029 were forecast to be 12% and 8%.

However, the analyst noted that manufacturing and healthcare would still account for a large proportion of cumulative private 5G deployments over the whole forecast period 2022 to 2029, respectively 4.63 million and three million cells out of a global total of 35.8 million. That global total is 19 times the 2022 total of 1.89 million, with a similar rate of increase for revenues. The 2021 total was just 689,000, meaning deployments have almost trebled in the past year, driven especially by the US, China, Japan and Germany, followed by other leading industrial nations like the UK, France and South Korea.

The analyst issued a note of regional caution, pinpointing that China looked likely to be hamstrung by regulatory resistance to private 5G, with roll-out dominated by the three state-owned monopolies, China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom. However, RAN Research pointed out that a strong upsurge from the country’s enterprises, including government agencies as well as manufacturers, had opened up the country’s enterprise 5G field to rapid growth, although with the big carriers enjoying greater involvement in the major projects.

In addition to an upswing for 5G-based private networks, the study predicted a similar rise in deployment of enterprise Wi-Fi networks around the current 6E standard, offering greater capacity and performance than the previous generation, closer to 5G. RAN Research said Wi-Fi growth would be strongest in North America and Europe, peaking earlier in 2024, after which an increasing number of sites would switch to 5G for more demanding use cases.

The analysis also observed that the big difference from 5G is that Wi-Fi deployments will decline steadily after 2024, a significant factor being Chinese enterprises largely abandoning the technology in favour of 5G. Its forecast is also for Wi-Fi deployment revenues to increase from $751m in 2022 to $2.51bn in 2025, similar to the rate of growth for private 5G, but then decline year by year to $1.7bn in 2029.

While it said 5G would account for the lion’s share of the growth over the whole forecast period, RAN Research predicted there would still be a significant number of 4G private networks being deployed over the next few years. Similarly, on the Wi-Fi front, generation 5 is dominant at present, but the study expects it will be the latest 6E that takes over during the forecast period, followed by Wi-Fi 7 after 2024, offering an alternative to 5G for some less demanding emerging cases.

Concluding, RAN Research said private 5G networks were drawing new players into the mobile arena. Operators face competition not just from new service providers, but also enterprises themselves bypassing them to build their own networks.

A surge in private 5G network deployments has been underway for almost two years now, and a study from RAN Research, the wireless forecasting arm of Rethink Technology Research, is predicting that private network uptake will accelerate at a higher rate than public 5G, peaking around 2028 in most markets.

The Private networks driving opportunities in 5G and Wi-Fi  study noted this this peak would arrive about two years earlier in China and some time later in developing areas of Africa and Latin America. Looking at what this could mean in terms of business, the study calculated that by 2028, private 5G network sales and associated services such as installation would generate $23.8bn, before plateauing in 2029 and then subsiding as it reaches saturation, with further deployments being mostly upgrades and extensions.

The forecast looked at what it believed could be the key private network regions and vertical industry sectors, identifying manufacturing followed by healthcare as major drivers of private enterprise 5G early on, but with strong growth across the board and other sectors catching up to varying degrees later. While RAN Research expected manufacturing to account for 19% of all deployments by number of cells installed in 2022, followed by healthcare on 11%, the respective figures for 2029 were forecast to be 12% and 8%.

However, the analyst noted that manufacturing and healthcare would still account for a large proportion of cumulative private 5G deployments over the whole forecast period 2022 to 2029, respectively 4.63 million and three million cells out of a global total of 35.8 million. That global total is 19 times the 2022 total of 1.89 million, with a similar rate of increase for revenues. The 2021 total was just 689,000, meaning deployments have almost trebled in the past year, driven especially by the US, China, Japan and Germany, followed by other leading industrial nations like the UK, France and South Korea.

The analyst issued a note of regional caution, pinpointing that China looked likely to be hamstrung by regulatory resistance to private 5G, with roll-out dominated by the three state-owned monopolies, China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom. However, RAN Research pointed out that a strong upsurge from the country’s enterprises, including government agencies as well as manufacturers, had opened up the country’s enterprise 5G field to rapid growth, although with the big carriers enjoying greater involvement in the major projects.

In addition to an upswing for 5G-based private networks, the study predicted a similar rise in deployment of enterprise Wi-Fi networks around the current 6E standard, offering greater capacity and performance than the previous generation, closer to 5G. RAN Research said Wi-Fi growth would be strongest in North America and Europe, peaking earlier in 2024, after which an increasing number of sites would switch to 5G for more demanding use cases.

The analysis also observed that the big difference from 5G is that Wi-Fi deployments will decline steadily after 2024, a significant factor being Chinese enterprises largely abandoning the technology in favour of 5G. Its forecast is also for Wi-Fi deployment revenues to increase from $751m in 2022 to $2.51bn in 2025, similar to the rate of growth for private 5G, but then decline year by year to $1.7bn in 2029.

While it said 5G would account for the lion’s share of the growth over the whole forecast period, RAN Research predicted there would still be a significant number of 4G private networks being deployed over the next few years. Similarly, on the Wi-Fi front, generation 5 is dominant at present, but the study expects it will be the latest 6E that takes over during the forecast period, followed by Wi-Fi 7 after 2024, offering an alternative to 5G for some less demanding emerging cases.

Concluding, RAN Research said private 5G networks were drawing new players into the mobile arena. Operators face competition not just from new service providers, but also enterprises themselves bypassing them to build their own networks.



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