Research Roundup: Analysys Mason on 5G buildout success, Berg Insight on NB-IoT growth

Network disaggregation, open standards and a radical approach to network architecture are the answer to Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) hopes for fulfilling their 5G plans, according to research commissioned by Telecom Infra Project and carried out by digital communications consulting and research firm Analysys Mason.

When deploying a new network, a third of respondents are looking to lower the total cost of ownership by at least 20% in the first three years, while flexibility and a consistent service portfolio will be top priorities in a competitive market.

Open platforms are seen as critical by two-thirds of MNOs, while as many as 92% will implement a cloud-based network. If MNOs don’t reduce cost and invest in service flexibility, their 5G business strategies will not be successful, while deploying open-standard networks in the cloud will sustain multi-vendor implementations.

As the market is getting more competitive, MNOs will have to reconsider their mobile network architecture frameworks to comply with commercial needs. Some of the main focus points should be disaggregation, virtualization to reduce cost, and eventually implementing an end-to-end cloud-native network for scalability. Traditional inflexible networks that rely on physical infrastructure will not support 5G mobile use cases, while new platforms will introduce new service providers.

In terms of commercial models, the top ten priorities for a next-generation network are service flexibility (35%), scalability (30%), support for E2E orchestration (27%), improve support for edge computing (25%), enhance dynamic spectrum sharing (25%), enable massive IoT support (20%), support end-to-end slicing (15%), support access convergence (15%), support URLLC (ultra-reliable, low-latency communications) (10%), and support fully dynamic slicing (8%).

NB-IoT set to grow outside of APAC

Although five million NB-IoT modules were shipped in Europe and North America in 2019, the technology remains most popular in China for its integration with smart water and gas meters, Berg Insight found.

In 2019, more than 6 million units in Europe and North America received LTE-M modules for use in asset tracking.

Roaming agreements are now set to help NB-IoT adoption in Europe and North America, despite a slow start. Additionally, the annual cellular IoT module shipment rate has increased by 22.3% in 2019 to reach 265.4 million units.

“A key barrier to the growth of NB-IoT adoption outside of China has been the lack of NB-IoT roaming agreements between network operators,” said Fredrik Stalbrand, senior analyst at Berg Insight, in a prepared statement. “With a growing number of roaming agreements in place, NB-IoT adoption is set to accelerate as the technology becomes integrated into major volume product categories ranging from sensors, trackers and consumer electronics.”

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