Private mobile networks hit accelerator in 2022

Driven by North America and Europe, but with Asia-Pacific expected to catch up soon, private mobile network market defies tough economic climate and shows robust growth over the course of 2022

Fuelled by a series of multisite deployments in industries such as transportation, mining, manufacturing and warehousing, private mobile networks saw what analyst CCS Insight has described as another year of thriving growth in 2022, with global deployments growing 62% year-on-year and generating $2.7bn in revenue.

In a report, the analyst called private mobile networks a “red-hot topic”, with the technology taking a “meaningful foothold” in the market for wireless connectivity. There are a growing number of deployment options available to enterprises in different industries and sizes, which is fuelling growth.

In addition to many new customers adopting their first private networks, more companies were found to be rolling out networks throughout multiple sites following successful trials. CCS Insight calculated that there are an average of 2.1 private mobile networks per customer, excluding larger, nationwide deployments.

Looking regionally, the study found EMEA as the largest region by number of unique customers, with the bulk of firms trialling the technology. Asia-Pacific was the third-largest region, with China contributing a much higher number of hybrid and virtual private networks, which sit on public mobile networks, than other markets.

However, the analyst noted that North America had the most commercial deployments. CCS Insight observed that the success of Citizens Broadband Radio Service spectrum in the US had helped the country become a leader in private mobile network deployments, simplifying the route to market by offering predictable access to spectrum.

Given that more than 20 countries now have dedicated spectrum of this sort, and more are expected to release it over the next 12 months, CCS Insight believed this would be a catalyst for further growth.

One country the analyst cited as benefiting was India, presenting, it said, a lucrative opportunity in the enterprise market now that 5G spectrum has finally been given the go-ahead there. Indeed, CCS Insight said that given India’s growth potential, it would be a hot market to watch over the next 18 months.

CCS Insight also forecast that deployments in Asia-Pacific would grow by 68% year-on-year in 2023, and even catch up with North America by 2027. This is because of the former’s large addressable market of manufacturing sites.

Looking at the prospects for the private mobile network industry in 2023, the analyst said that with a tough economic climate forecast, there was a concern that the cost of investing in private mobile network infrastructure would prompt some enterprises to delay orders or scale back commercialisation. However, it believed that private mobile networks would maintain healthy traction given the cost efficiencies they could deliver.

“Geopolitically vulnerable sectors, such as power utilities and military and defence, present significant growth opportunities in 2023 as they use increased funding to modernise and optimise their communications infrastructure,” explained Luke Pearce, a senior analyst at CCS Insight.

“The supplier landscape is evolving fast. We expect that the entrance of new radio access network equipment suppliers, 5G software core providers and hyperscale cloud services offering new models of deployment will disrupt the status quo. This will challenge market leaders Nokia and Ericsson, and drive growth in the number of customers adopting private mobile networks, alongside the roll-out of multisite deployments in select sectors.”

Looking further ahead, CCS Insight expected total revenue for private mobile network infrastructure to reach a compound annual growth rate of 37% between 2022 and 2027 and rise to $10.5bn in the same period.

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