The 5G: operator network roll-out challenges and opportunities

This report examines the challenges that MNOs will face when deploying 5G and presents a detailed analysis of the technology options that are available to MNOs to accommodate their business models and priorities. We also provide recommendations for senior management within mobile operators, including CFOs, CEOs, and CTOs.

About this report
Executive summary

Challenge: MNOs are under pressure to launch 5G, but there is little
clarity on how best to harness the technology to meet business goals
Solution: MNOs must define a 5G business strategy and then choose a 5G
network architecture that supports the deployment of prioritised use cases

5G networks will be more complex, but will deliver a range of use cases beyond MBB; MNOs must plan a stepwise approach rather than all at once
NSA architecture will allow a quick route to market for 5G services, but MNOs must be mindful of the challenges when planning the migration to SA
5G core will facilitate new revenue-generating services, but its implementation will be complex and MNOs must adjust to new software-based ways of working
Massive-MIMO antennas will be necessary for 5G networks to improve network coverage and capacity, but they are complex to install and to maintain
NSA architecture will enable MNOs to deliver eMBB and FWA as the first 5G use cases, with fewer barriers and dependencies and an opportunity for revenue uplift 3x, one of the NSA architecture options, is the optimised solution for MNOs to begin 5G services using the same vendor for both 4G and 5GNR
Lack of access to C-band spectrum will be a major obstacle and MNOs will not initially get the full benefits that 5G can deliver when they first offer eMBB services

To overcome C-band UL limitations and to increase spectrum usage efficiency, MNOs can decouple the spectrum used for UL and DL
FWA has not been successful in the past, but the introduction of 5G and mMIMO will add capacity and spectrum efficiency to enable operators to deliver new services mmWave technology for handsets and FWA is improving, but challenges such as line-of-sight limitations remain

Mobile services will be the main capex driver (including RAN investments) of 5G, but MNOs must continue the long-term plan for opex reduction using NFV/SDN

There are a wide range of options for the intermediate migration of NSA to SA; vendors and operators must define strategies/priorities and prepare for challenges
Barriers to the adoption of open platforms remain; open RAN initiatives need to attract top vendors and build trust to reduce MNOs’ concerns
Mission-critical and other URLLC use cases will require redundancy in the 5G core, but this will only be delivered in Release 16, which is expected at the end of 2019
5G early movers by market [1/2]
5G early movers by market [2/2]
Analysys Mason’s operator survey indicates that TIP’s open RAN platform is of most interest to MNOs, although over half of MNOs remain unsure
The Telecom Infra Project is gaining momentum with start-up incubation
Huawei Technologies
Samsung Electronics
Parallel Wireless
Ruckus Wireless (ARRIS)
SpiderCloud (Corning)

About the author
Analysys Mason’s consulting and research are uniquely positioned
Research from Analysys Mason
Consulting from Analysys Mason

Figure 1: MNOs must invest in 5G in phases according to their business strategy
Figure 2: MNOs must choose architecture according to business need
Figure 3: Ability to support a use case depends on MNO
choice of architecture
Figure 4: MNOs must invest in 5G in phases that will enable them to fulfil the goals defined in their business strategy
Figure 5: NSA and SA represent the two migration paths to 5G
Figure 6: 5G core requires migration to cloud-native architecture
Figure 7:mMIMO antennas make use of spatial diversity
Figure 8: Investment in NSA will be leveraged later for SA
Figure 9: NSA architecture option 3 includes three scenarios
Figure 10: C-band spectrum landscape by market, December 2018
Figure 11: DL and UL spectrum decoupling for C-band
Figure 12: FTTH cost per premises passed, by operator, August 2018
Figure 13: Mobile bezel antennas and car rooftop antennas
Figure 14: Mobile capex allocation for 5G, 2017–2025¹
Figure 15: Mobile networkopex trend, 2017–20251
Figure 16: Different options for the intermediate migration to SA architecture
Figure 17: Percentage of MNOs willingness to adopt different combinations of new platform and new vendors, 2Q 20181
Figure 18: Solution with multiplegNBs and UPFs
Figure 19: Solution with redundant UEs in a device
Figure 20: 5G early movers in North America
Figure 21: 5G early movers in Asia–Pacific
Figure 22: Percentage of MNOs interested in supporting each open RAN platform, 2Q 20181
Figure 23:Start-ups incubated by TEAC operators to date (those relevant to the RAN are in red)

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