Telco Cloud Deployment Tracker Q4 2023: Year-in-review

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2023 concluded with 87 telco cloud deployments in our tracker. In this edition, we present the most popular vendor stacks for vRAN/open RAN and the main rationales behind the 11 5G SA launches last year.

5G SA deployments are deferred and vRAN supersedes open RAN

As last year came to an end, we did a thorough review of all our ‘in progress’ telco cloud deployments for 2023 in order to get a final count of actual deployments within the year: the number of deployments we know to have been completed in 2023 at 87 was somewhat below the total of 100 we predicted in the last update to the Tracker. However, we may add to the 2023 total if we come across implementations retrospectively.

Total telco cloud deployments by region, 2016-2024

Source: STL Partners

The shortfall was made up largely of outstanding 5G SA core deployments, most notably those of: Rakuten Mobile; five Orange natcos in Europe; Tele2 in four markets; Telia in six countries; Ooredoo in Qatar; and US Cellular.

We have postponed these deployments to 2024, although it is not certain they will all be completed by the end of this year. Many telcos that have not yet gone live with SA cores may now wait till the 5G Advanced standards are finalised in 3GPP Rel 18, later this year, before proceeding. This is because they need to integrate the standards with their SA stacks and work out what 5G Advanced-enabled services they can develop.

The wave of commercial, scaled deployments of open RAN we originally expected to see in 2022 and 2023 did not transpire. The main proponents of open RAN that had promised such deployments are now proceeding with vRAN roll-outs (as discussed above), notably:

  • Deutsche Telekom in Germany (Nokia vRAN), due in 2024
  • Orange and Vodafone in Romania (shared RAN project, with Samsung), also expected in 2024
  • Telefónica Germany (trial with Samsung in October  2023)
  • Vodafone UK (ongoing roll-out of Samsung vRAN).

Detailed statistics of 2000+ deployments by type of network functions, operators, vendors, countries and regions are available in the Excel spreadsheet which accompanies this report and can be visualised in our Tableau dashboards (subscriber-only content).

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Table of contents

  • Executive summary
  • Deep-dive: Year-in-review 2023
  • Regional overview
  • Operator view
  • Vendor view

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David Martin


David Martin

Senior Analyst

David Martin has specialised on telco cloud at STL Partners since 2016, writing numerous strategic reports on different aspects of the topic. He also originated STL’s Telco Cloud Deployment Tracker: a major database of commercial telco cloud deployments by leading telcos worldwide. He is a telecoms analyst of around 25 years’ experience. David obtained a First Class degree in French and German at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he also pursued doctoral studies in French.