LightTrends Newsletter

The wireless infrastructure market dropped both YoY and sequentially in 1Q23

May 2023

LightCounting releases its 1Q23 Wireless Infrastructure Market Size, Share, and Forecast

As anticipated, the 5G feast the wireless industry has been enjoying the past 3 years is over: 1Q23 declined 3% YoY and 17% sequentially. Starting a new year with a sequential decline is typical but a YoY drop is abnormal and suggests a declining pattern is in the making. This trend confirms that we have entered the 5G post-peak era. While the U.S. market posted its steepest drop, the strong 5G rollouts in India and a 5G rebound in Japan, along with stable and sustained activity in EMEA and China, respectively, were not enough to keep the wireless infrastructure market out of the decline. On the open vRAN front, DISH in the U.S., Rakuten Mobile in Japan, and a few Rakuten Symphony customers kept the market flat YoY and produced double digit sequential growth.

Despite a weak quarter, Huawei retook its lead at the expense of Ericsson, which reported weak 1Q23 results that led to a market share loss. In the meantime, Nokia benefited from the 2 leaders’ market share loss and gained 1% point. ZTE also gained share at the expense of Huawei and Ericsson while Samsung’s share remained stable.

“We have passed the 5G peak and have entered the second year of a disinvestment cycle. The 5G investment cycle that started in 2019 and ended in 2021 was driven by hundreds of communications service providers (CSPs), including the world’s largest cellular footprints (i.e., China). At the moment, India’s massive 5G rollout is preventing the situation from getting worse but this will end soon,” 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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