LightTrends Newsletter

Finally, the slow migration to standalone mode is picking up some steam; there is no rush though!

June 2023

The migration to 5G SA has remained slow: out of a total of 255 5G commercial networks reported at the end of 1Q23, only 40 were 5G SA, with 3 of the world’s largest ones in China. The lack of compelling 5G business cases beyond enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) and fixed wireless access (FWA), combined with some network architecture issues related to the complexity of cloud-native computing, continues to inhibit 5G SA core rollouts. As a result, communications service providers (CSPs) are just sweating their EPC/vEPC assets, saying there is no race, no rush to SA after all!

However, there is good news: the 5G SA core ecosystem sees the light at the end of the tunnel and anticipates a significant pick up by the end of the year. FWA and private wireless networks are seen as the bright spots along with a few other use cases that will drive the demand for 5G SA.

“So far, the ‘killer App’ has just been the gain of operating cost efficiencies rather than anything else. But now, the market dynamics are changing: more devices support 5G SA, the 5G RAN investment peak is behind, CSPs are seriously looking at their 5G SA plans, and the number of 5G SA core RFPs is swelling,” said Stéphane Téral, Chief Analyst at LightCounting Market Research and Founder of TÉRAL RESEARCH.

Overall, despite the opportunity to pick and choose the best of breed for each network function, we found that most CSPs are sticking with their traditional vendors, and some are adopting the DIY approach.

Other key findings include:

  • The most common network functions to start with during a migration to SA are NRF, NEF, NSSF, AMF, SMF, UPF in Session & User Plane and Resource Registry & Security, which build the foundation of 5G SA core, and UDM/UDR/AUSF in 5G Data Management.
  • PCF in the Policy & Charging domain is implemented in less than half of the deployments.
  • China alone sustained Huawei’s and ZTE’s predominance to command 62% of global sales in 2022, up from 55% last year.
  • Given the number of contracts they have won, Ericsson and Nokia are poised to benefit the most from the market pickup.
  • NEC, Mavenir, Microsoft Azure for Operators, Oracle, and Samsung are showing strong market momentum.
  • All factors considered; our 5G SA core model delivered a revised forecast that came lower than last year’s one, but the market is still growing at double digits.
  • Asia Pacific will remain the largest market throughout the forecast period.
  • 5G SA core will stay as the most important domain to start with, followed by data management and policy, respectively.

The 5G SA Core, SDM, and Policy market size & forecast report provides a comprehensive overview of the market broken down by regions (North America, Europe Middle East Africa, Asia Pacific, and Caribbean Latin America), and NF domains. It also covers 30 vendors including traditional network equipment vendors, mobile core specialists, data management and policy control players, OSS/BSS vendors and IT system integrators.

The 5G SA Core, SDM and Policy report is available for download by LightCounting clients.

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