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OpenRAN capex to overtake traditional RAN spending by 2028

Capital expenditure on OpenRAN radio units (RUs) is expected to reach $47.4 billion by 2026, predicted ABI Research this week.

$40.7 billion of that sum is expected to be ploughed into outdoor public networks – which includes macro as well as small cells – with shipment volumes reaching 9.9 million. The remaining $6.7 billion is expected to come from spending on indoor enterprise networks, with volumes in this segment of the market reaching 29.4 million.

“ABI Research expects greenfield installations, as well as private enterprise networks and public consumer networks, in rural/uncovered areas to drive the deployment of OpenRAN throughout the entire forecast period,” said Jiancao Hou, senior analyst at ABI Research, in a research note.

The analyst firm pointed out that OpenRAN is going global, with proponents like Dish in the US; and Vodafone, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, Orange and Turkcell in Europe. Then of course there is Rakuten in Japan which, after a lot of hype, finally launched its OpenRAN-based 5G service at the beginning of this month.

Earlier this week, the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) saw fit to recap its recent achievements regarding OpenRAN; read more about them here.

Thanks to this is flurry of interest and adoption, ABI Research predicts that capex on OpenRAN RUs will overtake traditional RAN spending in 2027-28.

“The OpenRAN opportunity invites various stakeholders to bring their best in class technologies and hardware/software components to contribute to building a flexible, secure, agile, and multi-vendor interoperable network solution,” Hou said.

“In addition, trade wars and the global pandemic of COVID-19 have resulted in tremendous restrictions on the telecom supply chain and disrupt the evolution of new technologies,” he said. “These effects will accelerate the development of OpenRAN and open networks.”

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