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After all, 2021 was the wireless infrastructure market peak, not 2022

February 2023

LightCounting releases its 4Q22/FY22 Wireless Infrastructure Market Size, Share, and Forecast

Although 4Q22 was the strongest quarter we saw in 2022—+11% QoQ and -1% YoY, driven by India’s 5G rollouts, it was not enough to put the full year back to growth territory. As a result, the global wireless infrastructure market declined 3% YoY last year, which means 2021 was the peak after 3 years of double-digit growth fueled by 5G rollouts and sustained 4G upgrades. It’s worth noting that 4Q22 saw strong mobile 4G and 5G core activity along with open vRAN. Ericsson leads RAN sales market share followed by Huawei, Nokia, ZTE, and Samsung, respectively.

In the meantime, the wireless infrastructure market continued to operate at its equilibrium reached in 2021: the 2 opposite spheres of influence, the East led by China versus the West defined as the U.S. and its allies, are becoming more balanced. We found that the West accounted for 52% of the global wireless infrastructure market while the East made up for the rest, with China accounting for more than 80% of the East.

“Overall, market dynamics continued to operate at equilibrium with the unabated execution of the 5G contracts awarded between 2H20 and 1H21 and a few fresh smaller ones excluding India. However, this also means that we have passed the peak of this first 5G wave, which confirms our view that the global wireless infrastructure market is poised for a declining pattern,” said Stéphane Téral, Chief Analyst at LightCounting Market Research.

As a result, this year, we expect the market to slightly decline over 2022 with India in the 5G driver’s seat. In the long run, our service provider 20-year wireless infrastructure footprint pattern analysis points to a 2022-2028 CAGR of -3% characterized by low single-digit declines through 2027, which appears to be the bottom leading to flatness or slight growth in 2028. In fact, we expect 5G to slightly pick up in 2027, driven by upgrades needed to prepare networks for 6G. Given the ongoing 6G activity, we believe something labeled 6G will be deployed in 2028.

About the report:

Wireless Infrastructure quarterly report analyzes the wireless infrastructure market worldwide and covers 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G radio access network (RAN) and core network nodes. It presents historical data from 2016 to 2022 of quarterly market size and vendor market shares, and a detailed market forecast through 2028 for 2G/3G/4G/5G RAN, including open vRAN, and core networks (EPC, vEPC, and 5GC) for each region (North America, Europe Middle East Africa, Asia Pacific, Caribbean Latin America). The historical data accounts for the sales of more than 30 wireless infrastructure vendors, including vendors that shared confidential sales data with LightCounting. The market forecast is based on a model correlating wireless infrastructure vendor sales with 20 years of service provider network rollout pattern analysis and upgrade and expansion plans.

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