Optical Networking Opportunities in 5G Wireless Networks: 2017-2026


5th Generation wireless systems (5G) are what’s next in the personal mobile communications space and they will eventually replace the currently ubiquitous 4G systems.  The key characteristics of 5G is higher capacity and lower latency which will (1) support a higher density of mobile users as well as provide (2) a comprehensive infrastructure for IoT and M2M communications.

While access to 5G networks will, by definition, be wireless, much of the rest of the infrastructure will use fiber optics.  As CIR sees it, 5G will create considerable new opportunities for the optical networking industry going forward.  However, while optical links have been widely used in the cellular industry for many years, revenue generation from optical networking in the 5G space will require carefully thought through strategies by the optical networking industry as a whole.  5G is poised to dramatically increase the use of fiber optics in some parts of the network, while actually reducing the use of fiber in others:

  • There is a vision of 5G as a converged fiber-wireless network in which short-haul, but very high bandwidth wireless connections will support high data rates, but with fiber almost everywhere else.  5G as it is currently evolving seems more willing than previous generation to make fiber optic deployments a central part of the network and any general standards that emerge.  This makes 5G potentially a huge opportunity for the fiber optics industry – including the makers of modules and components as well as the fiber/cable manufacturers themselves.
  • On the other hand, 5G, with its high data rates, seems to imply fiber could present a significant challenge to long-held assumptions about the need for fiber-to-the-premises.  This suggests that some of the fiber optic opportunities that have been baked into the product/market strategies of many optical networking firms may turn out to be wrong
  • 5G deployment is currently at an early stage.  Nonetheless there is no formal standard for 5G and there are many different visions of what 5G will ultimately look like. The votes are still out on what type of 5G network will ultimately evolve and this will impact the size and growth of the 5G network’s need for fiber optics market accordingly. 

In this highly uncertain environment, this report is designed to provide guidance to the optical networking industry and where and how 5G networks will present new opportunities over the coming decade.  Included in this report are:

  • An assessment of how current visions of 5G networks vary in terms of their impact on optical network products and fiber optics demand.  How will optical links help to support the necessary bandwidth and latency for 5G networks?  And what will the concept of an integrated wireless/fiber network mean in practice?
  • A granular market ten-year market forecast of fiber optics-related opportunities flowing from 5G deployment.  The forecast is provided in both unit shipment and market value terms.  It is also broken out by type of transceiver product, cable type, data rate, network segment, country/region, etc.
  • Discussions and assessments of how leading firms in the module and component space are preparing for 5G deployment and what this says about who the fiber optics-related winners and losers will be
  • An analysis of the type of optical networking products that 5G will require.  In this analysis we cover modules (by MSA, data rate, etc.), components and the types of fiber that would be used in an integrated wireless/fiber network.  The report also takes a look at how interfaces between fiber and base stations/hubs will evolve in the 5G network
  • A discussion of how the deployment of 5G networks will impede the planned use of fiber in the access network.  In particular, the report will take a look at how optical networking firms can readjust their marketing strategies to new product and customer types as the 5G “revolution” takes hold.

Table of Contents

Provisional Table of Contents

Executive summary

Chapter One Introduction
1.1 Background to this report
1.2 Objective and scope of this report
1.3 Methodology and information sources for this report
1.4 Plan of this report
Chapter Two Evolution of 5G Networks:  Fiber Optic Requirements
2.1 Goals and expectations for 5G deployment
2.2 Anticipated capabilities and bandwidths for 5G networks
2.2.2 Role of fiber in providing adequate data rates in 5G networks
2.2.3 Role of fiber in providing latency for 5G networks
2.2.4 Integrated wireless/fiber networks
2.3. Areas where 5G networks will retard the growth of fiber
2.3.1 5G as a replacement for FTTH
2.3.2 5G and fiber in small cell base stations
2.4 Key points made in this chapter
Chapter Three:  Ten-Year Forecasts of Fiber Optics for 5G Networks
3.1 Forecasting methodology
3.2 Ten-year forecast of 5G demand for optical networking by network segment
3.2.1 Breakout by country/region
3.3 Ten-year forecast of 5G optical networking market by cable type and network segment
3.4 Ten-year forecast of 5G optical networking by MSA and data rates by network segment
Chapter Four:  Analysis of the Supply Structure for Fiber Optics in 5G Networks
4.1 Opportunities for transceiver makers in 5G networks
4.2 Opportunities for optical cable firms in 5G networks
4.3 How will makers of switches, hubs and base stations adjust to fiber in 5G networks?
4.4 5G and the future of the FTTH business
4.5 Which optical component/module firms will lead as the 5G revolution takes hold
4.6 Key points made in this chapter

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