LightTrends Newsletter

An epic 4Q20 and FY20 for the Wireless Infrastructure market in a once in a lifetime pandemic

February 2021

LightCounting releases its 4Q20/FY20 Wireless Infrastructure Market Size, Share, and Forecast.

The 5G rollout momentum seen in North America, and North East Asia reported in 3Q20 continued in 4Q20 and was augmented by a strong activity in Europe where many countries woke up and joined front runner Deutsche Telekom. In addition, 4G did not decline as expected because many service providers added 4G capacity—RAN and core—to cope with strong traffic while battling COVID-19. As a result, the 4Q20 wireless infrastructure market grew 14% YoY while staying flat sequentially.

Looking at the full year 2020, China kept its promise and added 900k BTS, including 600k 5G and 300k 4G BTS, the U.S. fired on all 5G cylinders and was joined by Japan and South Korea. Again, the rise of Europe in 2H20 was also instrumental in bringing the total market to a new high passing the $40B bar (+19% growth YoY) with RAN and core network’s sales both growing 18%. Included in this RAN total, 4G open vRAN grew 240% YoY and passed the $200M bar in 2020 mostly driven by Rakuten Mobile’s network construction.

Despite the unabated U.S.-led international campaign to convince many countries to ban Huawei and ZTE, little has changed in the 2020 wireless infrastructure market dynamics.

The 2 years in a row of double-digit growth made the market resemble a step function and lifted the foundation of our entire forecast: 5G is higher and the 4G decline is less pronounced. However, 2021 points to a return to normalcy with 5% YoY growth driven by all regions except CALA, and the pattern of our revised long-term wireless infrastructure forecast continues to show a bell shape. Therefore, our service-provider 20-year wireless infrastructure footprint pattern analysis points to a 2020-2026 CAGR of -2% characterized by low single-digit growth through 2022, followed by low single digit declines throughout 2026, which reflects the differences in regional and national agendas, including the COVID-19 impact. The model considers all the 5G 3-year rollout plans that we gathered from many service providers and indicates strong activity through 2022 and 2023. LightCounting subscribers can download the full research note by logging in to their accounts.

About the report: This 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 2020, quarterly market size and vendor market shares, and a detailed market forecast through 2026 for 2G/3G/4G/5G RAN, including open vRAN, and core networks (EPC, vEPC, and 5GC), in over 10 product categories 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 a few 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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