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Global spending on Open RAN RIC, xApps and rApps to hit $600M

SNS Telecom & IT's latest research report indicates that global spending on Open RAN standards-compliant RIC (RAN Intelligent Controller) platforms, xApps and rApps will reach nearly $600 Million by the end of 2025.

SON (Self-Organising Network) technology is designed to minimise the lifecycle cost of running a mobile network by eliminating manual configuration of network elements at the time of deployment right through to dynamic optimisation and troubleshooting during operation.

Besides improving network performance and customer experience, SON can reduce the cost of mobile operator services, improving the OpEx-to-revenue ratio and deferring avoidable CapEx.

According to the researchers, early adopters of SON have already witnessed a multitude of benefits in the form of the following:

  • Accelerated 5G NR and LTE RAN (Radio Access Network) rollout times
  • Simplified network upgrades
  • Fewer dropped calls
  • Improved call setup success rates
  • Higher end user throughput
  • Alleviation of congestion during special events
  • Increased subscriber satisfaction and loyalty
  • Operational efficiencies such as energy and cost savings
  • Freeing up radio engineers from repetitive manual tasks

According to the researchers, SON was originally developed as an operational approach to streamline and automate cellular RAN deployment and optimisation. However, mobile operators and vendors are increasingly focusing on integrating new capabilities, such as self-protection against digital security threats and self-learning through AI techniques, as well as extending the scope of SON beyond the RAN to include both mobile core and transport network segments which will be critical to address 5G requirements such as end-to-end network slicing.

In addition, with the cellular industry's ongoing shift towards open interfaces, virtualisation and software-driven networking, the SON ecosystem is progressively transitioning from the traditional D-SON (Distributed SON) and C-SON (Centralised SON) approach to open standards-based components supporting RAN programmability for advanced automation and intelligent control.

The popularity of innovative Open RAN and vRAN (Virtualised RAN) architectures has reignited the traditionally niche and proprietary product-driven SON market with a host of open standards-compliant RIC (RAN Intelligent Controller), xApp and rApp offerings, which are capable of supporting both near real-time D-SON and non real-time C-SON capabilities for RAN automation and optimisation needs, the report states.

SNS Telecom & IT estimates that global spending on RIC platforms, xApps and rApps will reach $120 Million in 2023 as initial implementations move from field trials to production-grade deployments. With commercial maturity, the submarket is further expected to quintuple to nearly $600 Million by the end of 2025.

Annual investments in the wider SON market which includes licensing of embedded D-SON features, third party C-SON functions and associated OSS platforms, in-house SON capabilities internally developed by mobile operators, and SON-related professional services across the RAN, mobile core and transport domains are expected to grow at a CAGR of approximately 7% during the same period.

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