In June 2021 STL published a capex forecast as its first attempt at estimating the value of the O-RAN market.
This O-RAN forecast is based on analysis of telco RAN capex and projected investment pathways for O-RAN. The assumptions are informed by public announcements, private discussions and the opinions of our Telco Cloud team. O-RAN capex will reach USD43 billion and account for 76% of active RAN capex by 2030.
O-RAN forecast: Four migration pathways for brownfield operators
Pathway 1: Committed O-RAN-philes with 4G refresh
- Operator has already deployed first wave of 5G through an appliance-based approach (or maybe vRAN)
- Operator has implemented 5G Standalone core and moved all 5G traffic over to this
- O-RAN is then gradually deployed for both 5G and 4G starting from 2023
Pathway 2: Late with 5G, fast with O-RAN
- Operator has not yet deployed first wave of 5G, potentially due to licensing in local markets
- Operator looks to adopt O-RAN from outset for 5G
- This will be in 2025 or even 2027
Pathway 3: NEP-otists, evolving with NEPs
- Operator has already made significant early progress with 5G launch and deployed first wave of 5G, working closely with existing vendor(s) to evolve network
- Operator to adopt O-RAN later and even then only from main vendor(s)
- Not before 2026 and then gradually
Pathway 4: Industrial O-RAN
- Operator has mature 4G/5G and fixed broadband networks
- Main interest in O-RAN for supporting advanced industrial services and private enterprise networks
- These are likely to emerge in 2023/24
Download the full O-RAN forecast here.