LightTrends Newsletter

Disaggregating the cell site gateway, the phenomenal installed base is under attack

December 2020

December 17, 2020

LightCounting’s new report explores the emergence of the Disaggregated Cell Site Gateways (DCSG) market. DCSG are white-box cell site gateways or routers based on an open and disaggregated architecture for existing 2G/3G/4G and future 5G network architectures. Our major findings in the report are:
-The elimination of vendor lock in and the abundance of NOS (network operating system) software options are the primary drivers. For many European CSPs (communication service providers), the need to find hardware alternatives to Chinese vendors was a secondary driver.
-NOS software vendors are mushrooming and by far outnumbering the white box hardware suppliers. However, software can also be disaggregated and sold through components.
-Established telecom network equipment vendors are not worried about the onslaught of NOS suppliers because they also provide their own NOS running on cheap hardware. In addition, new 5G RAN architectures that provide various split options redefining the backhaul and the integrated access and backhaul (IAB) feature of 3GPP Rel. 16 are inhibiting the DCSG opportunity. And finally, they claim that disaggregation increases the need for integration, narrowing the DCSG opportunity to large Tier 1 CSPs with enough resources.
-All inputs from all vendors and CSPs with DCSG rollout plans are taken into consideration, our cell site-based model produced a forecast of tens of millions of dollars in sales including hardware and software by year-end, growing at a triple digit 5-year CAGR and passing the half a billion dollars mark by 2025. We expect DCSG units to hit several thousands of units in 2020 and grow to hundreds of thousands in 2025, penetrating more than 60% of the world’s CSG footprint excluding China.
-Until we get more insight into the impact of 5G reaching ubiquity, which is still a long way off, our DCSG forecast is a CSG replacement. In the long run, we expect 5G use cases to dictate the DCSG addition rate.
About the report:
LightCounting’s Disaggregated Cell Site Gateways Report analyzes DCSG architectures and implementations, including its emerging ecosystem, and tracks white box hardware units and sales, and software sales, all broken down by regions including North America, Europe Middle East Africa, Asia Pacific, and Caribbean Latin America; a few regions include country breakdowns.  It includes the total number of cell sites worldwide and a 5-year forecast. As this market is just emerging, it is too early to publish vendor market shares.
Companies covered in this report include more than a dozen NOS and white-box hardware specialists as well as established telecom network equipment vendors such as Cisco, Ericsson, Juniper Networks and Nokia Networks.

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