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Growth for 5G Indoor Wireless Cellular Networking Apps

The success of Wi-Fi 6 isn't a foregone conclusion. There's growing interest among CIOs and CTOs in strategic applications for fifth-generation (5G) network deployment with unlicensed and shared spectrum in both the consumer and the enterprise Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) markets. 

Distributed Antenna Systems (DASs) have become a vital component for in-building wireless cellular communication coverage, especially in the U.S. and Asian markets. However, many legacy DASs are facing challenges incorporating 5G and increasing the overall capacity of the systems.

To overcome these challenges, many Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are starting to transition from traditional in-building DASs to 5G-Ready digital Distributed Radio Systems (DRS) due to technical and financial aspects and a smooth transition to 5G networks.

Wireless Infrastructure Market Development

According to the latest worldwide market study by ABI Research, worldwide revenue for DASs will grow approx. 2.7 times -- from $5,072.9 million in 2019 to $13.7 billion by 2025. Similarly, the consumer and enterprise small cells will generate revenue growth of 2.6 times from $975 million in 2029 to $2.6 billion by 2025.

"With the advent of 5G indoors, flexible solutions with advanced features and capabilities like DRS have gained greater participation in the market. These solutions change the way traditional DASs are designed and implemented due to their simplified and future-proofed architecture," said Johanna Alvarado, senior analyst at ABI Research.

The market opportunity for DRSs will grow in the following years, during which the solution is going to be adopted to address 5G upgrades for legacy DASs, as an overlaid 5G systems, but also as the main indoor wireless solution for all venue sizes.

According to the ABI assessment, DRSs will be largely adopted to address various wireless applications in the consumer and enterprise WLAN markets.

MNOs have started to deploy 5G indoors targeting high-density venues such as sports stadiums and live music venues. For example, Deutsche Telekom in Germany deployed 5G in Munich's Allianz Arena. Similarly, Verizon and AT&T in the United States are adding 5G networks to sporting facilities and entertainment venues.

Many of these upgrades involve new DAS network infrastructure covering the 5G frequency range.

"There are mainly two strategies adopted by MNOs to deploy 5G in venues with existing legacy DASs. These strategies are mainly spectrum re-farming and overlaid 5G systems. These techniques will be largely adopted by MNOs to boost 5G coverage in venues of all sizes where there are existing legacy DASs. DRSs will mainly be the overlaid architecture chosen by MNOs, because DRSs effectively deploy more advanced features without significant cost," adds Alvarado.

Outlook for Digital Distributed Radio Applications Growth

In addition, in order to cope with the pace of the technology changes in the mobile telecommunication industry, 42 percent of the interviewed vendors have merged or acquired new companies in a span of seven years.

"It is clear that the DAS market is consolidating with vendors diversifying its product portfolios, and entering new markets by acquiring new companies," concludes Alvarado.

That said, I believe that Wi-Fi network congestion issues have prompted many organizations to seek alternatives. The millions of Wi-Fi routers and access points in use today -- competing for spectrum on a limited number of unlicensed channels -- have demonstrated the need for new solutions to the growing demand for wireless connectivity.

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