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Mobile Network Ownership: Wholesale, sharing and NWaaS market forecast 2015 – 2020

Rethink Technology Research – MNO, MVNOs and NWaaS

Wholesale, sharing and NWaaS 2015-2020

An important feature of the mobile network landscape is the increasingly fragmented nature of service delivery. In the 2G era, each mobile operator built its own network and was virtually the only company to provide services over it, bar roaming deals. Now there are rising numbers of MVNOs riding on the mobile networks, as well as companies providing over-the-top and WiFi-based services.

This module examines key trends, such as the rising importance of wholesale revenues to MNOs (some of which may go wholesale-only in future), and the moves towards more flexible platforms to support large numbers of network-free service providers. These include virtualized platforms and NWaaS (network as a service) offerings, sometimes controlled by the network owner and sometimes by a third party. All figures are broken down by region.

The data tables forecast the split of connections monetized over WiFi or cellular,  between providers of different kinds from MNOs to wireline operators to OTT providers and device vendors. It also forecasts the deployment of small cells and WiFi by non-MNOs to complement an MVNO deal to access the macro network, and the type of platforms which will be in place to manage all these connections, including NWaaS and SCaaS (small cell as a service).

The surveys and forecasts on which the outputs are based were conducted in November 2015 to January 2016.

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In the macro layer of the mobile network, deployment of brand new sites will slow significantly towards the end of the period, resulting in CAGR of only 2%. However, the overall installed base will increase at a CAGR of 14% in 2015 to 2020, because of densification of the macro layer. However, that growth will be lower than in previous years because of trends like RAN sharing, and the picture of ownership of the installed base in 2020 will be very different from that of a decade earlier.

New site deployments and upgrades will peak at almost 1.5m in 2019, while the installed base in 2020 will total 6.96m. The growth in installed base will come from:

  • Use of increasingly small cells, even in the macro layer
  • Deployment of numerous low cost, low power sites in the macro layer, in vRAN formation
  • Densification of the macro layer as some African and Asian operators begin their second wave of LTE
  • Beginnings of ‘5G’ deployment. Rethink will not forecast for 5G until there is greater clarity about what that will entail, but does take into account the operators’ changes to their 4G macro networks, in preparation for likely 5G changes (what Huawei has dubbed 4.5G). Such changes will include greater use of virtualization in the macro layer.

Mobile Network Operators, Wholsesale, sharing and NWaaS market forecast 2015 to 2020

Wholesale, Sharing and NWaaS 2015—2020

Sheet 1   Mobile network ownership 2015—2020
Table 1 Macro layer base station installed base by region
Table 2 Small cell installed base by region
Table 3 Deployment/ownership of macrocell installed base by operator type
Table 4 Deployment/ownership of small cells (cellular and cellular/WiFi) by Operator type
Table 5 Deployment/ownership of macrocells by region and operator type
Table 6 Deployment/ownership of small cells by region and operator type
Sheet 2 MVNOs and NWaaS 2015—2020
Table 7 Mobile connections (excluding M2M) 2015—2020
Table 8 Number of connections where MNO is the primary provider
Table 9 Connections monetized by non-MNOs
Table 10 Platforms deployed to manage non-MNO connections
Table 11 Non-MNO connections managed by virtualized platforms