Worldwide radio unit shipment revenue for unlicensed & shared spectrum will hit US$6.2 billion by 2026

Along with the 3GPP standardized wireless technologies for unlicensed & shared spectrum use, i.e., 5G NR-U, many innovative network models are proposed to help the telco industry accommodate various connectivity needs. ABI Research, a global tech market advisory firm, forecasts the worldwide radio unit shipment revenue for unlicensed & shared spectrum use in the enterprise domain will be worth as much as US$6.2 billion by 2026, with cumulative unit shipments expected to reach 27.3 million. These figures are less than those for licensed spectrum use, but the gap is shrinking fast.

“The rapid growth in data traffic and the convergence of different levels of service requirements have been noticed by the telco industry and motivated key players to think about using scarce spectrum resources more efficiently,” said Jiancao Hou, 5G & Mobile Network Infrastructure Senior Analyst at ABI Research. “Apart from spectrum for licensed use, governments and relative authorities are working to unlock more locally licensed and unlicensed & shared spectrum to help a full range of industrial verticals address diverse connectivity needs and get access the transformative benefits.” Moreover, “Standardization body, the 3GPP, and its partners are also targeting to offer a robust and unified ecosystem to support various wireless technologies and reduce time to the market. ”

Network operators are seeking cost-effective solutions to expand their network capacity and coverage by exploiting the unlicensed & shared spectrum. The commercial launch of Gigabit LTE set a great example of harnessing the unlicensed spectrum to improve network throughput. The promotion of Licensed Shared Access (LSA) or Authorized Shared Access (ASA), such as the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) in the U.S. market and 2.3 GHz band in Europe, also benefits the spectrum access innovation and fulfils the needs of various industrial verticals with reduced network deployment cost. The 3GPP in its Release 16 introduces Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) and Coordinated MultiPoint (CoMP) transmission technologies. These technologies can help network operators provide a better user experience and narrow the performance gap with licensed spectrum.

“ABI Research expects LSA and 5G NR-U technologies will be the mainstream focus of industrial verticals due to the promotion of dynamic and managed unlicensed & shared spectrum use to improve network performance,” Hou points out. Besides, “With the support of the robust 3GPP ecosystem, network operators are able to offer enterprise users a single network solution that addresses a multitude of different use cases with various connectivity requirements. Moreover, the emergence of a neutral host network also fosters the use of unlicensed & shared spectrum and helps industry users provide more flexible, cost-effective, and agile network solutions with reduced time to the market,” Hou concludes.

These findings are from ABI Research’s Unlicensed and Shared Spectrum for 5G: Implementation Scenarios, Industry Options and Business Models application analysis report. This report is part of the company’s 5G & Mobile Network Infrastructure research service, which includes research, data, and analyst insights. Based on extensive primary interviews, Application Analysis reports present in-depth analysis on key market trends and factors for a specific technology.

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