A new generation of cellular technology, operating in newly opened mmWave frequency bands, is promising a major shift in the in-building wireless space. Most cellular network traffic is generated indoors, and some of the early 5G use cases around sports, entertainment and more are centered around large in-building venues or enterprise facilities. In addition, carriers are adding millimeter wave coverage as a capacity play, to offload users with new 5G devices from LTE networks that are strained in some high-density areas.
So what are analysts’ market predictions for the in-building wireless ecosystem in the next few years? Here are four.
—ABI Research noted that while distributed antenna systems are a vital part of in-building cellular coverage, “many legacy DASs are facing challenges incorporating 5G and increasing the overall capacity of the systems. To overcome these challenges, many Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are starting to transition from traditional in-building DASs to ‘5G-Ready’ digital Distributed Radio Systems (DRS) due to technical and financial aspects and a smooth transition to 5G.”
ABI expects that global DAS revenues will nearly triple in the next five years, from nearly $5.1 billion last year to $13.7 billion by 2025. The firm expects consumer and enterprise small cells see see revenues grow from about $975 million in 2020 to $2.6 billion by 2025.
“With the advent of 5G indoors, flexible solutions with advanced features and capabilities like DRS have gained greater participation in the market. These solutions change the way traditional DASs are designed and implemented due to their simplified and future-proofed architecture,” said Johanna Alvarado, senior analyst at ABI Research, in a statement. “The market opportunity for DRSs will grow in the following years, during which the solution is going to be adopted to address 5G upgrades for legacy DASs, as an overlaid 5G systems, but also as the main indoor wireless solution for all venue sizes. DRSs will be largely adopted to address various wireless applications in the consumer and enterprise markets.”
Indoor equipment vendors have seen this coming and prepared for it via mergers and acquisitions, such as CommScope’s acquisitions of Airvana, TE Connectivity and Ruckus, Cobham’s Axell Wireless buy and Corning’s acquisition of SpiderCloud. “It is clear that the DAS market is consolidating with vendors diversifying its product portfolios, and entering new markets by acquiring new companies,” Alvarado added.
–Mordor Intelligence estimates that the in-building wireless market will see a compound annual growth rate of 13% through 2025. “In-building wireless (IBW) solutions off-load the data needs … from high-rise buildings, vast campuses, crowded stadiums, and hotel properties, to ensure continued connectivity,” the company notes. “The expectation from public is that that 5G will provide a faster, more advanced network connection and this has led to significant pressure on carriers to deliver a superior end-user experience. Providing 5G capabilities [raises]the need for increased bandwidth availability coupled with devices located closer to transmitters for short RF band lengths. … Building owners have a significant interest in ensuring quality indoor wireless coverage for their tenants and those who visit their buildings.“
-In a report earlier this year on small cells, Mobile Experts specifically called out expected strength in the indoor small cell market. The analyst firm called 2020 “a transition year for small cells as we progress from LTE to 5G.” While the global coronavirus pandemic may slow down operator network plans, Mobile Experts Principal Analyst Kyung Mun said, the firm expects to see a steady upward trend in small cells through 2025.
“Carrier indoor small cells will continue to grow rapidly, as aggressive 5G network rollouts in China are driving a huge volume of distributed DRS solutions including Huawei’s Lampsite, and ZTE’s Qcell,” said Kyung Mun. “We expect carrier indoor small cell unit shipments to represent a majority of the small cell equipment market value of $5.5 billion in 2025.”
Mobile Experts said that the enterprise segment and private networks, including private 5G, will be a particularly bright spot for small cells, to be used for industrial automation and other enterprise use cases.
-Finally, a recent report from Markets & Markets anticipates that the global in-building wireless market will see a CAGR of 11.9%, growing from $10.3 billion this year to $18 billion by 2025. The report suggests that the fastest-growing segment of the overall market will be the training, support and maintenance services that enable the deployment of in-building networks, and that the global region which will see the highest growth will be the Asia Pacific market, with China, Japan and Australia contributing the most growth and manufacturing industries in China and Japan seeking to use in-building systems to support robotics and the use of sophisticated big data analytics.
Looking for more insights on 5G and mmWave indoors? Register for our upcoming webinar, 5G Inside: Things to Know in Indoor 5G Network Design, featuring speakers from Verizon, Qualcomm, Ericsson and ED2.
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