The latest telecommunication standard has entered the industry at a tough time, with health and geopolitical issues needing to be resolved. Despite this challenging situation, the industry has remained fully committed to delivering 5G, from equipment vendors to smartphone manufacturers and their suppliers. 

The initial 5G impetus came from South Korea and China with consumer broadband as the main use case. Now post-COVID-19 recovery is ongoing, and 5G is spreading across North America, Europe, and the rest of the world. More than 2 million 5G base stations were deployed by the end of 2021 and analysts from Yole Intelligence, part of Yole Group, expect to see 0.9 million BTS installed in 2022 to reach a 5G BTS penetration rate of 12% by the end of the year. At the mobile device level, a fast transition is ongoing, with twice as many 5G phones available in 2021 than in 2020. In total, 550 million 5G smartphones were produced in 2021, representing 40% of the total smartphone market. 

In the next five years, Yole Intelligence’s RF team expects to see the enterprise, industrial, and automotive market segments driving 5G deployment in both the sub-6GHz and mmWave bands with private networks, fixed wireless access, and IoT use cases booming thanks to 5G capabilities. 

5G is shaping the Wireless RAN Infrastructure industry at the system and component levels 

With the ongoing 5G roll-out, operators are starting to shut down their 3G and 2G services to free up cell sites, refarm spectrum for 4G and 5G and save OPEX since it is very costly to simultaneously serve all 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G technologies. 

According to Cyril Buey, Ph.D., Technology & Market Analyst, RF Devices & Technologies at Yole Intelligence, “With 5G, the industry is introducing key technologies such as massive MIMO for sub 6 GHz or mmWave beamforming, so the requirements to enable 5G become different to the previous communication standards. Massive MIMO is leading a technological disruption at the component level. Indeed, a massive MIMO system delivers 32 to 64 streams as opposed to a traditional RRH with 2 to 8 streams, leading to a massive increase in the bill of material, thus the number of RF components required, and growing system complexity. mmWave beamforming has also led to new developments from silicon to antenna design…”

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