Four O-RAN deployment pathways

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

O-RAN forecast

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.

See more STL O-RAN research