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5G Infrastructure

5G and edge computing, Open RAN, towers and small cells, data centers and fiber, 5G New Core

U.S. Mobile Network Infrastructure Spending Forecast, 2021-2026: Inflation, interest rates and the cloud

5G has been launched in the U.S., including on Dish’s new Open RAN-based network, but 5G networks will take many years to fully deploy. As a result, LTE will continue to carry the majority of U.S. mobile data traffic for the next couple of years, even as mobile operators’ build spending is primarily targeted at 5G.

This market study presents a forecast for the cost of building, deploying and operating LTE and 5G networks in the U.S. from 2021 through 2026. Included is a mobile network infrastructure build forecast, which is detailed by mobile network component (RAN, front/backhaul, and core) and generation (LTE and 5G). The RAN build component is further detailed by Open RAN and traditional RAN. The study also includes a forecast of network operating costs.

In addition to the forecasts, the market study provides detailed information on 5G networks, cloud RAN, Open RAN and edge computing, as well as a status update on the 5G network deployments in the U.S.


Key Questions Answered

  • How will the amount of data traffic carried on LTE and 5G networks grow in the U.S. in the next five years?
  • How big is the LTE and 5G infrastructure opportunity in the U.S. in the next five years?
  • What is the impact of inflation, construction crew shortages and supply chain issues on the U.S. mobile infrastructure investment?
  • What is the share of infrastructure spending for the network components of RAN, fronthaul/backhaul, and core?
  • How is deployment of the core into the cloud impacting spending?
  • What portion of RAN spending will be for Open RAN?
  • What is the share of infrastructure spending for LTE and 5G in the next five years?
  • What are the expected mobile network operating costs in the next five years?
  • What is the status of the major U.S. mobile operators’ 5G networks?
  • What are some of the technologies being used to support the deployment of 5G, such as dynamic spectrum sharing, MIMO and beamforming?
  • What are the new architectures that are being used to evolve the mobile network and support 5G, such as cloud RAN, Open RAN, virtualization and mobile edge computing?

Who Should Read

  • Mobile operators
  • Infrastructure OEMs
  • Small cell product and solution vendors
  • Edge computing solution providers
  • Backhaul service providers and equipment OEMs
  • Financial analysts and investors.

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Executive Summary
    • Spend Forecasts
    • What This Means
  • Methodology
    • Network Model and Components
    • Model Assumptions - General
    • Model Assumptions – Moving to 5G
    • iGR Cost Model and Mobile Operator Financial Disclosures
  • 5G Defined
    • eMBB
    • URLLC
    • mMTC
    • 5G Services and Use Cases
  • 5G Network Spectrum and Technologies
    • Spectrum
    • C-Band
    • 3.45 GHz Spectrum
    • 2.5 GHz Spectrum
    • Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS)
    • Challenges Along the Road to 5G
    • MIMO & Beamforming
  • Cloud RAN and Open RAN
    • Cloud RAN
    • Open RAN
      • What does “open” mean?
      • What is Open RAN?
      • The Open RAN ecosystem
  • Edge Computing
    • ETSI Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC)
    • Criteria around what goes at the edge
    • Where can edge compute be placed?
  • The Status of U.S. Mobile Operators’ Networks
    • AT&T
    • Verizon Wireless
    • T-Mobile
    • U.S. Cellular
    • Dish
    • Rural Operators
  • U.S. Mobile Connections and Data Traffic Forecast
    • U.S. Mobile Connections Forecast
    • U.S. Mobile Data Traffic Forecast
  • U.S. Infrastructure Build Cost Forecast
    • Methodology and Assumptions
    • U.S. Mobile Infrastructure Build Spending by Network Component
    • U.S. Mobile Infrastructure Build Spending by Generation
  • U.S. Mobile Network Operating Cost Forecast
  • U.S. Total Mobile Network Cost Forecast
  • Definitions
  • About iGR
    • Disclaimer

List of Tables

  • Table 1: Forecasted U.S. Mobile Connections, 2021-2026 (Millions)
  • Table 2: Assumed Total U.S. Network Usage, 2021-2026 (EB/year)
  • Table 3: U.S. Mobile Network Infrastructure Build Spending, 2021-2026 ($M)
  • Table 4: U.S. Mobile Network RAN and Open RAN Build Spending, 2021-2026 ($M)
  • Table 5: U.S. Mobile Network Infrastructure Build Spending, 2021-2026 (percent)
  • Table 6: U.S. Mobile Data Traffic by Generation, 2021-2026 (percent)
  • Table 7: U.S. Mobile Network Infrastructure Build Spending by Generation, 2021-2026 ($M)
  • Table 8: U.S. Mobile Network Infrastructure Build Spending by Generation, 2021-2026 (percent)
  • Table 9: U.S. Mobile Network Operating Costs, 2021-2026 ($M)
  • Table 10: Total U.S. Mobile Network Build and Operating Spending, 2021-2026 ($M)
  • Table 11: Total U.S. Mobile Network Build and Operating Spending, 2021-2026 (percent)
  • Definitions Table

List of Charts and Figures

  • Figure A: U.S. Total Mobile Network Infrastructure Build Spending, 2021-2026 ($M)
  • Figure B: U.S. Mobile Network Operating Costs, 2021-2026 ($M)
  • Figure C: Total U.S. Mobile Network Build and Operating Spending, 2021-2026 ($M, Total)
  • Figure 1: No DSS versus With DSS
  • Figure 2: Cloud RAN Deployment
  • Figure 3: Open RAN Deployment
  • Figure 4: O-RAN Alliance Architecture
  • Figure 5: Forecasted U.S. Mobile Connections, 2021-2026 (Millions)
  • Figure 6: Assumed Total U.S. Network Usage, 2021-2026 (EB/year)
  • Figure 7: U.S. Total Mobile Network Infrastructure Build Spending, 2021-2026 ($M)
  • Figure 8: U.S. Mobile Network Infrastructure Build Spending by Component, 2021-2026 ($M)
  • Figure 9: U.S. Mobile Network RAN and Open RAN Build Spending, 2021-2026 ($M)
  • Figure 10: U.S. Mobile Network Infrastructure Build Spending by Component, 2021-2026 (percent)
  • Figure 11: U.S. Mobile Data Traffic by Generation, 2021-2026 (percent)
  • Figure 12: U.S. Mobile Network Infrastructure Build Spending by Generation, 2021-2026 ($M)
  • Figure 13: U.S. Mobile Network Infrastructure Build Spending by Generation, 2021-2026 (percent)
  • Figure 14: U.S. Mobile Network Operating Costs, 2021-2026 ($M)
  • Figure 15: Total U.S. Mobile Network Build and Operating Spending, 2021-2026 ($M, Total)
  • Figure 16: Total U.S. Mobile Network Build and Operating Spending, 2021-2026 (percent)

For additional information on the U.S. Mobile Network Infrastructure Spending Forecast, 2021-2026: Inflation, interest rates and the cloud market study, please contact Iain Gillott, at (512) 796-1675 or by email.

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