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Opinion by Iain

Indicators on the state of the Private Wireless Networks market

April 20, 2022 | CBRS has been around for a couple of years now; private networks have been deployed around the world using various spectrum bands; and systems integrators (large and small) have launched practices to help their enterprise customers deploy solutions. Covid certainly delayed the initial growth of the new opportunity significantly (we are working on our latest market forecasts now), but the indications are that some of the industry verticals are set for some strong growth.

But what is interesting is to look at some of the recent deals and investments that have been announced:

  • February: Federated Wireless announced it had raised $58 million in Series D,
  • March: Celona announced Series C of $60 million,
  • April: Intel acquired Ananki for an undisclosed amount.

There was also the announcement that CommScope was withdrawing from the SAS market (announced in March) to focus on other areas of the private network business – this means that there are essentially two operating SASes for CBRS in the US (Federated and Google). Seven were originally authorized by the FCC, but the SAS market has consolidated relatively quickly.

And we have to mention that Geoverse was folded back into its parent and has effectively ceased as an independent entity.

Finally, there have been many announcements from the established networking and IT vendors, including AWS’ announcement to offer private wireless solutions back in November. Cisco, Juniper, HPE, and others have all announced product or capabilities around private wireless in the last six months, while others such as Microsoft already had solutions on offer.

So what does all of this mean? From our perspective, there are several takeaways:

  • 1) The industry that provides the core infrastructure to support CBRS and private wireless networks is well-established and is maturing quickly. The industry knows how to manage a SAS and there are multiple core and management solutions on offer from multiple vendors. Private wireless networks have been deployed (iGR’s new private wireless network ecosystem database has over 50 case studies listed…so far).
  • 2) The big enterprise IT vendors and solutions providers have taken note and are entering the market. Private wireless network solutions are not limited to a few wireless-only vendors. This opportunity is seen as a core enterprise solution provided by established vendors.
  • 3) The initial deployments are relatively small –there is a lot of tyre-kicking (yes, that is the English spelling of ’tyre’!) and proof-of-concepts that will lead to far larger deployments by name-brand companies. While some verticals (education for example) have been kick-started by federal dollars, other industries will take longer to develop.
  • 4) Finally, and probably most importantly, the private wireless network is not a technology sell. It is a business-value discussion and sale. The enterprise CFO is the one who must see the value and justify any investment, not a network engineer or technologist. Again, we see this as a sign of a maturing industry – the technology works; now show the business value.

This is not to say that it is all plain sailing for the private wireless networks opportunity to be realized (far from it), but the solutions and opportunities are now out of the shaded corner in the room and into the sunlight. Enterprise execs may not fully understand what a private wireless network is, but they have heard the term and they can get questions answered by their main IT vendors. That is progress for the industry. Now we just need to get to the growth phase!


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