OpenRAN spend increased 5x in Q1 2021, driven by APAC – Dell’Oro

OpenRAN mania is officially underway, it seems, with spending on OpenRAN compatible kit and software going through the roof in the first quarter of his year.

The news comes courtesy of estimates from analyst firm Dell’Oro, which published them in a blog. “Preliminary estimates suggest total Open RAN revenues – including O-RAN and OpenRAN compatible macro and small cells radios plus baseband hardware and software – increased around five-fold year-over-year,” wrote Analyst Stefan Pongratz.

Intriguingly, given all the noise the US is making about OpenRAN, it’s actually operators in the APAC region that were behind this surge. A lot of this is probably down to Rakuten, which is all-in on the tech, and it looks like other Japanese operators are following in its wake. At this early stage most of the deployments are of the Macro RAN variety, although small cell activity is also on the rise.

Pongratz went on to note that OpenRAN represents a great opportunity for lower-tier vendors to take RAN market share from the dominant incumbents. As if to illustrate that point, Mavenir today announced it’s involved in creating Thailand’s first smart city, which leans heavily on 5G OpenRAN tech.

“We are proud to be part of this ambitious 5G project which sees a whole city connected on a series of 5G applications running in parallel,” said Aniruddho Basu, GM of Mavenir’s Emerging Business Unit. “Connectivity is at the heart of this deployment – connecting people, communities, government services, and private sector services through local government data combined with new data acquired through Internet of Things (IOT), sensors, drones, and external collected data, to fully analyze it for proper city management and citizen knowledge.”

Dell’Oro didn’t offer a revenue value in its blog, presumably hoping people will pay for that information. At the early stage of any technological trend you’re going to see impressive growth numbers, but this does seem to confirm that we’ve entered the more substantial phase of the hype cycle for OpenRAN. Just wait until the Americans get their act together.

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