LightTrends Newsletter

Disaggregated cell site gateways are attacking the phenomenal installed base

December 2021

LightCounting releases its Disaggregated Cell Site Gateways Report

December 16, 2021 – Initiated by Facebook (renamed Meta Platforms on 10/28/2021) and currently led by Telecom Infra Project (TIP), Telefónica, and Vodafone, disaggregation covers all telecom network elements from access to transport and core and this report solely focuses on disaggregated cell site gateways (DCSGs).

“The elimination of vendor lock in and the abundance of NOS software options are the primary drivers. For many European CSPs, the need to find hardware alternatives to Chinese vendors is an increasing secondary driver,” said Stéphane Téral, Chief Analyst at LightCounting Market Research.

Our quarterly discussions with many NOS software and white box hardware players involved in the expanding DCSG ecosystem led to the following findings:

  • 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.
  • DCSG market inhibitors include new 5G RAN architectures that provide various split options, the integrated access and backhaul (IAB) feature of 3GPP Rel. 16, and an increasing need for integration, narrowing the DCSG opportunity to large Tier 1 CSPs with enough resources.
  • 2021 has been slow so far and below our expectations due to COVID-19 related issues including lockdowns, supply chain constraints, Broadcom’s Qumran lead times, and API integration problems.
  • All inputs from all vendors and CSPs with DCSG rollout plans taken into consideration, our cell site-based model produced a forecast of more than $40M in sales, including hardware and software, by year-end, +27% YoY; growing to half a billion dollars by 2026 at a CAGR of 56%; hardware sales account for 10% of total sales.
  • As China has no desire for disaggregation, the DCSG market forecast is well balanced across regions.
  • Until we get more insights into the impact of 5G reaching ubiquity, 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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