Global Private LTE Market will grow from $2.4 billion in 2018 to $4.5 billion by 2023, or a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 13 percent, according to market research released by MarketsandMarkets. The report, released Dec. 12, is titled, “Private LTE Market by Technology (FDD and TDD), Service, Application, Industry and Region – Global Forecast to 2023.”
Vendors in the private LTE market include Nokia, Ericsson, Verizon, Cisco, Samsung, Ruckus Wireless, NetNumber, Lemko, General Dynamics, Future Technologies, pdvWireless, Zinwave, Mavenir and Luminate Wireless, according to MarketsandMarkets.
Mobile Experts released an end-to-end study, CBRS 2018, in November, which provides a complete view of CBRS OnGo market development, including a five-year business model and technical analysis.
“The market for private LTE is very small right now. The equipment manufacturers are interested because it is a whole new class of customers and represent possible growth in a new market,” said Joe Madden, principal analyst, Mobile Experts.
Mobile Experts anticipates rapid growth over the next five years, with annual shipment of over 400,000 small cells for about $740 million in 2023, and more than 550 million handsets, CPEs and IoT devices.
“As the CBRS-enabled smartphones reach a meaningful penetration of the installed base (around 2021-2022), we may see enterprise and neutral host-led indoor deployments to further drive the market,” according to CBRS 2018.
Citizens Broadband Radio Service Will Ignite Private LTE
The FCC adopted a Report and Order “Promoting Investment in the 3550-3700 MHz Band” in October pushing the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) one step further to becoming reality. Some say that CBRS is a watershed moment for how private LTE systems will be deployed in the future.
The Citizens Broadband Radio Service at 3.5 GHz calls for three-tiered shared access between grandfathered incumbent access users, Priority Access Licenses (PALs), and General Authorized Access users.
“The rules bolster our confidence in the likely investment by the mobile and cable operators and lessens enthusiasm of the WISPs, enterprises, and other smaller players who looked forward to getting hands-on lower-cost“licensed” spectrum. Now that the rules are final and clear – i.e., license areas based on county and a 10-year term with renewability – the market is ready for a commercial rollout beyond trials,” according to the Mobile Experts.
While there has been plenty of growth potential and interest in private LTE, it has been held back by lack of spectrum, he said. That should change with the Citizens Broadband Radio Service.
“The beauty of CBRS is that these companies will be able to buy the spectrum at auction in early 2020,” Madden said. “It is perfect for companies, such as oil refineries, that want to own and control their networks.” An auction date for the PALs has not been set yet.
Private LTE Case Studies Already Appearing
This week, Nokia and Ukkoverkot, Finnish provider of 4G mobile data services, began providing a private LTE network to the Finnish Port of HaminaKotka. The port operator Steveco is using the network for improved situational awareness of container handling to warehouse logistics and port security. The dedicated low-latency network enables wirelessly connected cameras on cranes to provide real-time video streaming and analytics, as well as connectivity for trucks, sensors and workers.
American Tower and Ruckus Networks deployed the first commercial CBRS Private LTE network Nov. 9 at the newly-renovated ISM Raceway in Phoenix to expand connectivity in the infield, grandstands, camping grounds and Midway. The new system will complement the existing Wi-Fi system.
Ruckus Wireless was the first to secure FCC CBRS certification for their indoor and outdoor LTE Access Points. The ISM Raceway solution includes the Federated Wireless Spectrum Controller and the Ruckus Q710 and Q910 LTE APs. American Tower also installed the Ruckus T310 series and T610 series outdoor 802.11ac APs.
ExteNet Prepares CBRS-Ready Fixed Wireless Service
Another company that is moving forward on CBRS is ExteNet Systems, which initiated in September a field trial of a FCC Part 96-ready, CBRS LTE fixed wireless network with Inland Cellular, which serves southeastern Washington and north central Idaho. Commercial service rollout is currently targeted for early 2019.
ExteNet’s virtualized LTE Evolved Packet Core (EPC) solution, bundled with Nokia’s Radio Access Network equipment, has served as the foundation for Inland’s 4G LTE service throughout its coverage area since 2016. Inland is now leveraging its existing mobile infrastructure to conduct a field trial with ExteNet on the 3.5 GHz CBRS spectrum to improve customer experience and meet demand connectivity and increased network capacity.
In May, Ericsson Verizon, Qualcomm and Federated Wireless deployed a private LTE system on CBRS spectrum.
Ericsson has announced that it will expanding its end-to-end 5G Platform in the second half of 2019 by adding additional hardware and software products to the Ericsson Radio System portfolio, further enhancing the speed of 5G rollouts. The new technology will be featured at Mobile World Congress Americas, held in Los Angeles, September 12-14.
The Radio Access Network (RAN) compute portfolio uses an architecture that allows service providers to flexibly distribute RAN functions – such as beamforming and radio control – where needed to fine-tune performance while also lowering total cost of ownership.
The portfolio includes all the current basebands in addition to four additional RAN Compute products that provide up to three times the capacity of current basebands. Two RAN Compute Basebands enable service providers to deploy RAN functions centrally or at the radio site, while two RAN Compute Radio Processors enable RAN functions to be placed closer to the radio for enhanced mobile broadband, ultra-low latency applications while reducing site footprint.
The company is also launching its new Ericsson Spectrum Sharing software, expanding the versatility of Ericsson Radio System for 5G deployments and giving service providers a greater opportunity to turn on 5G and speed up network coverage.
Ericsson Spectrum Sharing enables network migration through simultaneous and dynamic support of 4G and 5G within the same spectrum band using the Ericsson Radio System, once operators are ready to make the transition. The new functionality can be implemented through a remote software installation on Ericsson Radio System radios shipped since 2015.
This capability will allow communication service providers to deliver nationwide 5G coverage with a much more flexible spectrum migration strategy – removing the need for dedicating existing 4G spectrum assets to 5G statically, which would negatively impact 4G performance. The solution is Ericsson’s innovative approach based on the 3GPP Rel 15 standard and simplifies adoption by 5G device manufacturers.
To make it easier to deploy 5G in high-spectrum bands to boost capacity within urban areas, Ericsson is aligning its transport network products to meet the capacity and aesthetics with the Street Macro radios. For example, adapting the Fronthaul 6000 to ensure an integrated and complete Street Macro solution for millimeter wave 5G deployment.
To support the accelerated build out of 5G in the United States, Ericsson is increasing its research and development work done close to customers and shortening the timeline for new product introduction and product delivery to customers.
Börje Ekholm, President and CEO of Ericsson, said in a press release, “The United States is our largest market, accounting for a quarter of Ericsson’s business over the last seven years. To serve the demand of these fast-moving service providers, we are strengthening our investment in the United States to be even closer to our customers and meet their accelerated 5G deployment plans.”
In late 2017, Ericsson opened the Austin ASIC Design Center in Austin, Texas, to focus on core microelectronics of 5G radio base stations. Ericsson also will open a new software development center with baseband focus in 2018, employing more than 200 software engineers once fully operational. Additionally, Ericsson will increase its investment in artificial intelligence and automation, employing around 100 specialists in North America by the end of 2018.
Beginning in 2019, both of these facilities will introduce 5G products and software features into the Ericsson portfolio.
Ericsson will recruit a dedicated team to work specifically on introducing products for the U.S. market, conducting production engineering, testing/integration and supply preparations on early prototypes.
Ericsson will also begin manufacturing in the United States in the fourth quarter of 2018, which will provide volume production of next-generation radios and the fast introduction of new products into the U.S. market.
Ericsson predicted that carriers will initially look to 5G technology to solve dilemmas caused by rapidly growing data use, which is doubling on a global basis every 18 to 24 months, during its second quarter 2018 earnings call.
“We see the first business case for 5G being enhanced mobile broadband, but the interest for fixed wireless access is heating up globally as well,” Borje Ekholm, Ericsson president and CEO said according to seekingalpha.com transcript.
Operators also desire 4G equipment that is 5G-ready so they can transition when the time is right and avoid ripping and replacing equipment. To that end, the Ericsson Radio System (ERS) portfolio can be upgraded to 5G through a software upgrade, according Ekholm.
“We see good growth in North America and that’s really on the back of our customers getting ready for 5G and actually preparing the network,” he said. “We see the market increasingly gaining momentum. Operators are needing to invest in capacity to manage the sharply growing data traffic. And we see that this gives many new opportunities, especially with our 5G-ready 4G portfolio.”
As carriers add capacity to deal with increasing data, they will need to lower their cost per gigabyte, Ekholm said, first by adding carriers to 4G, then by adding MIMO antennas and eventually through 5G NR radios.
“5G can actually lower the cost or can have 10 times higher efficiency compared to a pure 4G site,” he said. “So that’s why we think 5G is initially a capacity enhancer in metropolitan areas where the network is running short on capacity.”
Ericsson and Intel, together with China Mobile, have successfully demonstrated the first 3GPP-compliant, multi-vendor Standalone (SA) 5G New Radio (NR) call – accelerating the commercial deployment of standard-based 5G networks.
The 3GPP Release 15 5G NR SA specifications were completed on June 13, 2018 enabling Standalone 5G NR with user and control plane on a 5G next-generation core network. The Non-Standalone and SA releases share the same physical layer specifications. The successful interoperability test marks another milestone for the commercialization of the newly finalized 5G NR SA standards.
The partners have conducted live Interoperability Development Testing (IoDT) of 3GPP-compliant SA 5G NR technology at the Ericsson Lab in Beijing, China. The live IoDT operating at 100MHz on 3.5GHz mid-band used Ericsson’s 5G NR base stations and Intel’s 5G NR UE (Intel® 5G Mobile Trial Platform) prototypes.
Fredrik Jejdling, Executive Vice President and Head of Business Area Networks, Ericsson, says: “Successfully completing the first 3GPP-compliant Standalone 5G NR call marks another milestone with our ecosystem partners on the path to 5G commercialization, building on our years of research and standardization. Together, we’re delivering on our commitment to realize a standard-compliant and easily deployable technology that will bring benefits to our customers and end users.”
Asha Keddy, Vice President and General Manager Next Generation Standards, Intel, says: “Intel’s ongoing collaboration with Ericsson and China Mobile and our achievement of 3GPP-compliant Standalone (SA) 5G New Radio (NR) multi-vendor interoperability will help to prepare the industry for the deployment of 5G NR SA networks. As 5G networks begin to be deployed, a new wave of 5G experiences will be possible, powered by Intel technologies across the cloud, core network, access network, and devices.”
Huang Yuhong, Deputy General Manager of China Mobile Research Institute, says: “China Mobile has worked hard with global partners in setting up a common 5G SA standard. Now we have teamed up with Ericsson and Intel to achieve successful interoperability of 5G NR among multi vendors. This is an important milestone for the commercialization of 5G standards and will lay a solid foundation for China Mobile in our large-scale 5G trial, enabling the success of the global 5G industry.”
Later this year, Ericsson and China Mobile will conduct a 5G field trial in Suzhou city of Jiangsu Province, where the demo system will also be deployed and tested. Ericsson and Intel have been collaborating on 5G and jointly conducting trials globally with communication service providers since 2017.