C-RAN Deployment:  Market Opportunity Analysis – 2018 and Beyond


This report explores the commercial potential of C-RAN (Cloud or Centralized Radio Access Network), the principal emerging architecture for distributed radio access networks (RANs) used in mobile phone networks.  CIR believes that C-RANs will become essential for 5G mobile networks where they will contribute to both cost reduction and performance improvement.  Not only is the conventional RAN approach expensive in terms of both Opex and Capex, there is also a problem with interference between the base stations.  Mobile service providers in Asia are already reporting 30 to 50 percent Opex reductions. C-RAN deployments will also make a contribution to the essential need for power efficiency in 5G Networks.

In the report CIR discusses how major suppliers of equipment for mobile infrastructure will position themselves for the 5G market using C-RAN as part of their strategy.  It also examines what functionality the mobile service providers are looking for from future distributed RANs.  Finally, the report examines the size and structure of the market that the arrival of C-RAN will have for the fiber optics, radio communications, and server businesses. As far as the IT aspects are concerned, we include a discussion of how C-RAN is repurposing conventional data center concepts to create a low cost, high reliability, low latency and high bandwidth interconnect network within the BBU pool.

Although CIR believes that C-RAN presents a significant market opportunity going forward, we also explore the factors that holding back C-RAN and how these are likely to change in the future.  One of these factors is fronthaul, which is being completely redesigned for the 5G era.  This report shows how the recent great leap forward in fronthaul technology will positively impact the deployment of C-RAN architectures as latency and synchronization requirements increase.  We also discuss the issues surrounding virtualization in the C-RAN architecture and what that will mean for opportunities for specialized processors and accelerators.

Also included in this report are ten-year market forecasts for C-RAN revenues and deployments and a thorough discussion of product trends – such as the move to smaller C-RANs – as represented by the announcements from leading vendors. Although, distributed RAN architectures have been around since 3G mobile, the focus of building mobile architecture was on providing broadband connectivity and distributed RANs were not a priority.  With 5G, priorities have changed and C-RAN deployment has become critical.  This report is designed to guide business development executives, product managers, investors and others to where the C-RAN opportunities can be found.

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 used in this report
1.4 Plan of this report
Chapter Two C-RAN Technology and Products
2.1 C-RAN products and C-RAN standardization
2.1.1 C-RAN and its variants: V-RANs, Hybrid RANs, small/enterprise C-RANs, etc.
2.1.2 Key architectural components (RRH, BBU, fronthaul and servers)
2.1.3 Emerging C-RAN standards 
2.2 C-RAN functionality and performance
2.2.1 Virtualization
2.2.2 Baseband functional splitting
2.2.3 MEC (Mobile Edge Computing)
2.2.4 RANaaS (RAN as a Service)
2.3 The future of competition for C-RAN architectures:  Macrocell base stations, small cells and Distributed Antenna Systems
2.4 C-RAN and the future of fronthaul.
2.4.1 Fiber fronthaul in C-RAN
2.4.2 Wireless fronthaul in C-RAN
2.5 Key points made in this chapter
Chapter Three   Worldwide Deployment Patterns for C-RAN:  Ten-Year Forecasts
3.1 Market drivers and barriers for C-RAN
3.2 C-RAN in 5G networks
3.3 C-RAN deployment models and mobile operator use case studies
3.3.1 Early adopters
3.3.2 Pragmatic followers
3.4 Ten-year forecasts: An emerging C-RAN deployment roadmap
3.4.1 Forecasts methodology
3.4.2 China
3.4.3 Other APAC
3.4.4 North America
3.4.5 Europe
3.4.6 Rest of the world
3.5 Key points made in this chapter
Chapter Four  Leading C-RAN Equipment Suppliers and How they are Shaping the Market:  Product and Marketing Strategies
4.1 Market shares
4.2 Altiostar
4.3 Amarisoft
4.4 Angels
4.6 Cavium
4.7 Ericsson
4.8 Huawei
4.9 Intel
4.10 M-CORD
4.11 NEC
4.12 Nokia
4.13 Phluido
4.14 Ranzurel/Mavenir
4.15 Samsung
4.16 Telecom Infra Project
4.17 ZTE

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