As mobile operators realize the benefits of RAN virtualization, the market is expected to grow at a CAGR of approximately 125% over the next three year period. By the end of 2020, SNS Research estimates that vRAN deployments will account for a market worth $2.6 Billion.
vRAN (Virtualized Radio Access Network) refers to a RAN (Radio Access Network) implementation where some or all baseband functions are separated from the remote radio unit and run as VNFs (Virtualized Network Functions) on commodity hardware. This approach results in multiple operational benefits including but not limited to TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) reduction, performance gains and scalability. In addition, vRAN enables mobile operators to future-proof their networks for 5G upgrades.
According to SNS Research, the vRAN market is presently at a nascent stage with most investments focused on virtualized small cells for targeted greenfield deployments and pilot engagements for macrocell coverage. At present, most vRAN investments are focused on virtualized small cells for targeted greenfield deployments and pilot engagements for macrocell coverage.
At the same time, mobile operators are exploring multiple baseband functional split options for vRAN implementation, as they seek to ease the transition to 5G networks while reducing fronthaul costs.
The ongoing 5G race is expected to significantly boost vRAN investments over the coming years. SNS Research estimates that approximately $900 Million of all vRAN investments will be directed towards 5G networks by the end of 2020.