We have had a couple of interesting days both in Zurich and Los Angeles attending Huawei’s Global MBBF event and MWC19 Los Angeles. We are sharing a few quick highlights/notes below. If you have any questions or would like full access to the blog, please contact Daisy@delloro.com.

We plan to discuss some of these topics in more depth with the upcoming 3Q 2019 RAN report and the January 2020 5-year forecasts.

5G MBB is accelerating rapidly

The 5G ramp is accelerating at an extraordinary pace with large scale deployments underway in China, Korea, and the U.S. Nationwide MBB population coverage (≥70%) is expected by 2019 in the U.S (low-band), 2019 in Korea (mid-band), and 2022 in China (mid-band).

Interest in DSS is High

While there is no secret that operators with larger continuous swaths of mid-band assets will initially focus on the mid-band to optimize the cost per bit economics, the interest in dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) is not only growing because the economics of improving the overall spectral efficiency of the LTE spectrum will eventually make sense from an efficiency perspective and/or there could be some value from a marketing point of view, operators also see the extended 5G NR coverage with lower band spectrum as a key enabler for 5G SA and network slicing.

Massive MIMO – Bandwidth, Cost, Performance, Power, Size

As we have discussed in our reports, we are confident Massive MIMO will play a pivotal role in extending the life of the macro utilizing the mid-band. Massive MIMO configured systems already comprised a double-digit share of the 1H19 RAN market. And over these past two weeks, we were particularly impressed with performance and form factor advancements.

During the MBB event, Huawei highlighted a 64T64R AAU weighing <30 kg, reflecting…for more details, please contact Daisy@delloro.com

The Value Proposition of Open and Virtual RAN is Morphing

There are multiple on-going Open RAN, O-RAN, and virtual RAN initiatives driven both by operators and suppliers with the primary objective of realizing a more flexible architecture that will optimize TCO for both the known and unknown use cases while at the same time improving the ability for the service providers to differentiate their services.

Initially, the value proposition of these next-generation architectures was heavily weighted towards the TCO benefits of using open interfaces, sharing resources, mixing and matching baseband and radio, and utilizing more general-purpose processors. What has stood out in our conversations over the past week or two is the notion that the performance per watt per dollar delta between x86 and ASICS is perhaps not converging as much as initially expected, resulting in an increased weight towards the demand side value upside as a result of easier access to the framework for 3rd party application developers, etc.

To be clear, we are not saying there are no TCO benefits, we are just observing that there are some initial signs that the value narrative is morphing.

One of the fundamental key questions we are admittedly struggling a bit with is the fact that……for more details, please contact Daisy@delloro.com

Millimeter Wave (mmW)

Our overall position with mmW remains fairly unchanged – we believe the technology is developing at a much faster pace than initially expected and will play an extremely important role over the long-term. At the same time, mmW will face some near-term challenges but the economics will improve over time as the technology advances and inter-site distances shrink.

Over the past two weeks, we have learned more about the mmW roadmaps for some of the Korean and Japanese operators, reinforcing the thesis that deployments are spreading but the adoption will be gradual.

Nokia shared some very insightful and detailed analysis during the MWC event, suggesting that the mmW opportunity in the U.S. market will be limited, more so than initially expected, presenting some rather challenging capacity mathematics for the U.S. carriers without mid-band spectrum.

At the same time, we were encouraged by the progress of new extension technologies to address some of the mmW RAN related challenges. Pivotal Commware – a startup with the backing of Bill Gates – is working on “self-installable” extension technologies that ultimately will address some of the technical and economic outdoor and in-building coverage challenges with higher frequency technologies. During the MWC event, Pivotal Commware ran a demo utilizing Verizon’s live outdoor mmW Ericsson gNodeB outside the hotel in a non-line of sight configuration with the Pivotal extension products showcasing ~0.9 Gb/s indoors and ~0.7 Gb/s behind thick walls and doors.

5G Indoor

As we have discussed previously, the shift from 4G to 5G is accelerating rapidly indoors, more so than we initially expected.

We plan to discuss some of these topics in more depth with the upcoming 3Q 2019 RAN report and the January 2020 5-year forecasts. Get the latest in your inbox, subscribe to Dell’Oro Group’s hot topics