Wireless communications and mobile internet access over cellular networks continue to be an essential component of next-generation telecommunication system enhancements. While deployments of 4G network technologies are still occurring across the globe, plans are underway for 5G.
That being said, 5G deployments indoors and in venues may be delayed by one year or more, when compared to outdoor 5G deployments starting from 2020. ABI Research estimates the global equipment market for in-building wireless -- including active distributed antenna systems (DAS), passive DAS, and repeaters -- will reach close to $10 billion by 2025.
5G Wireless Infrastructure Market Development
The overall system revenue in 2025, which includes services and equipment, will grow at a CAGR of 15 percent to reach $19 billion in 2025. Out of this market, 5G in-building wireless equipment will account for $509 million in 2025.
"As 5G nears full specification, mobile network operators will face challenges for indoor mobile coverage, including signal propagation, next-generation fronthaul or backhaul, and massive MIMO," says Nick Marshall, research director at ABI Research.
According to the ABI assessment, early 5G deployments indoors and in venues will be a migration building on the features of 4G LTE-Advanced and 4G LTE-Advanced Pro. This will happen technology by technology and frequency by frequency, avoiding costly total equipment replacements.
5G is a multi-technology HetNet, comprised of a combination of different cell types and access technologies to seamlessly adapt to an array of use cases and applications.
Network functions virtualization (NFV) migrates cellular signal processing to a remote telco data center, while mobile edge computing (MEC), in a countervailing trend, migrates IT compute and storage to the network edge within the building or venue for low latency use cases and applications.
Massive MIMO, a key challenge that 5G will face as it nears full specification, refers to the use of multiple antennas at the base station and mobile device.
Outlook for 5G Mobile Network Technologies
"We believe that future 5G networks will rely on NFV and MEC to alter the architecture and topology of the RAN by leveraging telco data centers to virtualize signal processing in the cloud," concludes Marshall.
With 5G standards yet to be finalized, many equipment vendors are actively researching and developing 5G equipment with a variety of approaches. These companies include Nokia with its AirFrame/AirScale Radio Access, Ericsson with its ERS, and CommScope with its OneCell.