Revenue growth in the private wireless radio access network (RAN) sector slowed during last year’s fourth quarter compared with Q4 2022, but it still was a very good year for the category, according to the Dell’Oro Group.

Total 2023 revenue in this segment accelerated about 40% compared with 2022, the market research organization found.

Private wireless networks use the same technology as commercial cellular networks, but are for the exclusive use of a single entity, such as a business or university.

Total revenues in private wireless RAN are projected to grow at a 21% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) during the next five years, Dell’Oro predicts, while public RAN revenues are projected to decline at a 2% CAGR.

“Although public RAN is still fueling the lion’s share of the overall RAN capex and the overall investment levels are tracking below some of the initial projections provided by the vendors in the early part of the 5G enterprise hype cycle, the fact of the matter is that private wireless is now growing at a formidable pace,” Dell’Oro Group Vice President Stefan Pongratz said in a press release.

Pongratz said this is in contrast to public RAN and enterprise WLAN, both of which are projected to contract this year.

Dell’Oro believes that private cellular technologies are “a massive opportunity” that in time will be embraced by enterprises.

Other findings from the April 2024 Private Wireless Report:

  • The $20 B+ enterprise RAN opportunity remains largely untapped, which is spurring interest from a broad array of participants across the ecosystem. Despite this, traditional RAN suppliers are well-positioned in the initial phase.
  • The top suppliers last year were Huawei, Nokia and Ericsson; top suppliers excluding China were Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung.
  • The forecast is up 3% relative to the last report. This reflects the fact that Dell’Oro’s bottom-up vendor analysis versus the initial top-down calculations is improving market size estimates.
  • The underlying technology mix has not changed. 5G is dominating in China and LTE is dominant elsewhere. Private 5G RAN revenues are expected to reach the $1 billion to $2 billion range by 2028.

Wireless carriers are finding opportunities in private wireless, often working with enterprise customers on their implementation.

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