As the ramifications of political decisions taken earlier in 2020 to exclude high-risk suppliers from national mobile infrastructures now play out, diversity in essential tech supply is very much on the agenda for all operators. It is also one of the key drivers for an expanding open radio access network (O-RAN) market, which analyst ABI Research says is expected to exceed the traditional RAN market for the first time, around 2027-2028.
According to ABI Research’s O-RAN market data report, the total capex spent on O-RAN radio units for public outdoor networks, including macro and small cells, is expected to reach $40.7bn in 2026, while the total revenue of O-RAN radios for indoor enterprise networks will reach as much as $6.7bn in 2026. Cumulative unit shipments are projected to reach 9.9 million in the same year
“The O-RAN opportunity invites various stakeholders to bring their best-in-class technologies and hardware/software components to contribute to building a flexible, secure, agile and multi-vendor interoperable network solution,” said Jiancao Hou, senior analyst at ABI Research. “In addition, trade wars and the Covid-19 pandemic have resulted in tremendous restrictions on the telecom supply chain and disrupt the evolution of new technologies. These effects will accelerate the development of O-RAN and open networks.”
Looking at who was driving the market, the study cited Rakuten Mobile, a greenfield network operator in Japan, as having set a prime example to deploy this new approach. It added that many other operators were also active in the field, including Dish Network in the US, Vodafone, Telefónica, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, and Turkcell. The O-RAN supply chain is also expanding, with Altiostar, Mavenir and Parallel Wireless leading the charge, with new entrants announced every week.
In addition to the current leaders, ABI said it expected new entrants to lead the early deployment of O-RAN, but they will be increasingly challenged by tier-one suppliers and system integrators for both public cellular implementations and enterprise deployment.
“ABI Research expects greenfield installations, as well as private enterprise networks and public consumer networks, in rural/uncovered areas to drive the deployment of O-RAN throughout the entire forecast period,” said Hou.
“O-RAN can introduce many advantages to the enterprise market, including infrastructure reconfigurability, network sustainability and deployment cost-efficiency. On the other hand, these small and easily manageable network use cases are likely to lower the entry barrier for O-RAN. Simultaneously, they help network operators and their ecosystem partners clearly understand the approach and suppliers’ maturity level, paving the way for a broader market.”