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Optical Networking Opportunities in 5G Wireless Networks: 2017-2026

  • ID: 4462029
  • Report
  • July 2017
  • Region: Global
  • CIR
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5th Generation wireless systems (5G) are what’s next in the personal mobile communications space and they will eventually replace the currently ubiquitous 4G systems.  The key characteristics of 5G is higher capacity and lower latency which will (1) support a higher density of mobile users as well as provide (2) a comprehensive infrastructure for IoT and M2M communications.

While access to 5G networks will, by definition, be wireless, much of the rest of the infrastructure will use fiber optics.  As the researcher sees it, 5G will create considerable new opportunities for the optical networking industry going forward in the 5G infrastructure; both backhaul and fronthaul.  However, while optical links have been widely used in the mobile telephony industry for many years, revenue generation from optical networking in the 5G space will require carefully thought through strategies by the optical networking industry as a whole.  5G is poised to dramatically increase the use of fiber optics in some parts of the network, while actually reducing the use of fiber in others:

  • There is a vision of 5G as a converged fiber-wireless network in which short-haul, but very high bandwidth wireless connections will support high data rates, but with fiber almost everywhere else.  5G as it is currently evolving seems more willing than previous generation to make fiber optic deployments a central part of the network and any general standards that emerge.  This makes 5G potentially a huge opportunity for the fiber optics industry – including the makers of modules and components as well as the fiber/cable manufacturers themselves.
  • The main beneficiary of the shift towards fiber in the 5G infrastructure will ultimately be NG-PON2.  But for now this is really only being championed by one company; Verizon.  XGS-PON will provide an interim solution, but the question is for how long?
  • On the other hand, 5G, with its high data rates, seems to imply fiber could present a significant challenge to long-held assumptions about the need for fiber-to-the-premises.  This suggests that some of the fiber optic opportunities that have been baked into the product/market strategies of many optical networking firms may turn out to be wrong. A faceoff between 5G and NG-PON as service platforms seem likely in the long run.

5G deployment is currently at an early stage.  There is no formal standard yet for 5G and there are many different visions of what 5G will ultimately look like.  In particular, fiber opportunities will be impacted by the implementation of new approaches using C-RAN architectures and next-generations interfaces that move beyond CPRI. Fiber opportunities in the 5G infrastructure will also depend on the shifting boundaries between fronthaul and backhaul. The votes are still out on what type of 5G network will ultimately evolve and this will impact the size and growth of the 5G network’s need for fiber optics market accordingly.

In this highly uncertain environment, this report is designed to provide guidance to the optical networking industry and where and how 5G backhaul and fronthaul will present new opportunities over the coming decade.  Included in this report are:

  • An assessment of how current visions of 5G networks vary in terms of their impact on optical network products and fiber optics demand.  How will optical links help to support the necessary bandwidth and latency for 5G networks?  And what will the concept of an integrated wireless/fiber network mean in practice?
  • An analysis of the type of optical networking products that 5G will require.  In this analysis we cover modules (by MSA, data rate, etc.), components and the types of fiber that would be used in an integrated wireless/fiber network.  The report is particularly focused on the role of PONs – especially XGS-PON and NG-PON2 – in providing 5G infrastructure.  It also examines how interfaces between fiber and base stations/hubs will evolve in the 5G network
  • A granular market ten-year market forecast of fiber optics-related opportunities flowing from 5G deployment.  The forecast is provided in both unit shipment and market value terms.  It is also broken out by type of transceiver product, cable type, data rate, network segment, country/region, etc.
  • Discussions and assessments of how leading firms in the module and component space are preparing for 5G deployment and what this says about who the fiber optics-related winners and losers will be
  • A discussion of how the deployment of 5G networks as residential broadband platforms will impede the planned use of fiber in the access network.  In particular, the report will take a look at how optical networking firms can readjust their marketing strategies to new product and customer types as the 5G “revolution” takes hold.
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Executive Summary
E.1 Evolution 5G Networks: Optical Opportunities
E.1.1 Fronthaul and backhaul in 5G: Shifting Boundaries
E.2 What 5G Backhaul Means to the Optical Networking Business
E.2.1 Fiber vs. Radio vs. FSO in 5G
E.2.1 5G Backhaul, PONs and FTTH
E.2.2 5G Backhaul, WDM and Carrier Ethernet
E.3 Non-Fiber Technology Opportunities for the 5G Market
E.3.1 5G-related Opportunities in Free Space Optics
E.3.2 Wireless Backhaul for 5G: Not Many Opportunities
E.3.3 A Note on the Impact of Intelligent Self-Optimizing 5G Networks and their Impact on Backhaul Networks
E.4 Six Companies to Watch in 5G Backhaul
E.5 Summary of Ten-Year Forecast of 5G Backhaul Technologies
Chapter One: Introduction
1.1 Background to this Report
1.1.1 Casting Bets on 5G Backhaul and Fronthaul
1.1.2 Market and Technology Segmentations
1.2 Objective and Scope of this Report
1.3 Methodology and Information Sources for this Report
1.3.1 Forecast Methodology
1.4 Plan of this Report
Chapter Two: Evolution of 5G and Related Backhaul and Fronthaul Markets
2.1 New Applications for 5G Networks: Caution Needed
2.2 Transmission Technologies for 5G Infrastructure
2.2.1 Fiber Optics for 5G Backhaul
2.2.2 A Note on 5G as a Replacement for FTTH
2.2.3 Free Space Optics
2.2.4 SDM
2.2.5 Wireless Backhaul for 5G
2.3 Emerging 5G Backhaul and Fronthaul Infrastructure: Getting Smarter
2.3.1 C-RAN and Fiber
2.3.2 CPRI and Beyond: Fiber Implications
2.3.3 5G Backhaul Will Need More Dark Fiber: Where Will It Come From?
2.4 Key Points from this Chapter
Chapter Three: Ten-Year Forecasts of 5G Optical Backhaul
3.1 Ten-Year Forecasts and Forecasting Methodology
3.1.1 Subscriber Forecasts
3.1.2 Issues in Forecasting Methodology for 5G
3.2 Forecasting Considerations by Countries and Regions
3.2.1 5G in the United States
3.2.2 5G Networks in Europe
3.2.3 5G in the APAC Region
3.3 Ten-Year Forecast of Investment in 5G Backhaul by Region
3.4 Investment in 5G Backhaul by Region
3.5 Ten-Year Investment in Fiber-Based 5G Backhaul by Region
3.6 Ten-Year Forecast of Investment in Fiber-Based 5G Backhaul by Technology
3.6.1 Forecast of Carrier Ethernet in 5G Backhaul
3.6.2 Forecast of PONs for 5G Backhaul
3.6.3 Forecast of WDM for 5G Backhaul
3.6.4 Forecast of SDM for 5G Backhaul
3.7 Ten-Year Forecasts of Fiber Used for 5G Backhaul
3.7.1 Forecast of Fiber Deployed for 5G Backhaul by Technology
3.7.2 Forecast of Fiber Deployed for 5G Backhaul by Technology:  Existing Carrier Fiber, Dark Fiber and Newly Deployed Fiber
3.8 Ten-Year Forecast of the 5G “Backhaul” Market by Network Segment
Chapter Four: Supply Structure for 5G Backhaul
4.1 5G Backhaul Presents a Fragmented Supply Structure
4.2 Backhaul and the Role of the Mobile Communications Infrastructure Giants
4.2.1 Adapting Infrastructure Gear to 5G
4.3 Backhaul and the PON Industry: Growing Opportunities
4.3.1 The Verizon Trial and Beyond: Suppliers to PON-based Backhaul
4.4 5G Backhaul and the Optical Cable Business
4.4.1 Cable Opportunity #1: Access and Provisioning
4.4.2 Cable Opportunity #2: Novel Types of Fiber Cable
4.5 mmWave Suppliers and Supply Structure
4.6 Key Points Made in this Chapter

Acronyms and Abbreviations Used In this Report
About the Author

List of Exhibits
Exhibit E-1: Evolution of Applications on Mobile Communications Platforms
Exhibit E-2: Optical Networking Opportunities from 5G Backhaul
Exhibit E-3: Six Companies to Watch in the 5G Backhaul Space
Exhibit E-4: Ten-Year Forecast of Investment in 5G Backhaul Worldwide by Type of Technology
Exhibit 1-1: Opportunities and Stumbling Blocks for Fiber in 5G Backhaul Networks 11
Exhibit 1-2: 5G Backhaul Network Architecture (1)
Exhibit 2-1: Generations of Mobile Communications
Exhibit 2-2: New Applications for 5G Wireless
Exhibit 2-3: Technology Options for 5G Backhaul
Exhibit 2-4: Protocols for Fiber Deployment in 5G Backhaul
Exhibit 3-1: Ten-Year Forecast of New 5G Customers Per Country /Region (Millions)
Exhibit 3-2: Ten-Year Forecast of Investment in 5G Backhaul Per Region ($Million)
Exhibit 3-3: Ten-Year Forecast of Investment in 5G Backhaul per New Customer Per Region ($)
Exhibit 3-4:  Ten-Year Forecast of Investment in 5G Backhaul Worldwide by Type of Technology
Exhibit 3-5: Ten-Year Forecast of Investment in 5G Fiber-Based Backhaul by Region ($Millions)
Exhibit 3-6: Ten-Year Forecast of Worldwide Investment in 5G Fiber-Based Backhaul by Protocol
Exhibit 3-7: Ten-Year Forecast of Worldwide Investment in 5G Fiber-Based Backhaul Using Carrier Ethernet
Exhibit 3-8: Ten-Year Forecast of Worldwide Investment in 5G Fiber-Based Backhaul Using PONs
Exhibit 3-9: Ten-Year Forecast of Worldwide Investment in 5G Fiber-Based Backhaul Using WDM
Exhibit 3-10: Ten-Year Forecast of Worldwide Investment in 5G Fiber-Based Backhaul Using SDM
Exhibit 3-11: Ten-Year Forecast of Worldwide Expenditures/Deployment of Fiber in 5G Backhaul by Protocol
Exhibit 3-12: Ten-Year Forecast of Investment in Fiber for 5G Backhaul by Region ($Millions)
Exhibit 3-13: Ten-Year Forecasts Fiber Deployments by Source (000s km)
Exhibit 3-14: Backhaul Market by Segment
Exhibit 3-15: Ten-Year Forecasts of Investments in 5G “Backhaul” by Network Segment (000s km)
Exhibit 4-1: PONs in the Mobile Backhaul Network
Exhibit 4-2: NG-PON2 Equipment Suppliers
Exhibit 4-3: Component and Subsystem Makers
Exhibit 4-4: ITU Recommendations for NG-PON2

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