Expansion of Radio Access Networks Demands Smarter Testing

As the rapid proliferation of LTE deployments around the world is intensifying, network operators need to manage their infrastructure better. Testing vendors are acknowledging this opportunity by developing smarter solutions which are better at measuring and plan for capacity expansions in radio access networks (RAN). These solutions are important as they can reduce capital investments in network procurement and operating expenses by optimizing the utilization of network elements, and forecasting network needs with a greater degree of accuracy.

The Test & Measurement Growth Partnership Service programme at Frost & Sullivan's has conducted a new study, which includes subjects such as aerial inspection, corrosion monitoring, Wi-Fi test equipment, analytical instrumentation and process analyzers. The study is called Analysis of the Radio Access Networks (RAN) Capacity Planning and Management Market.

With fewer network interoperability issues, operators will enjoy increased network capacity. Implementation of sophisticated traffic management solutions can enhance network capacity and, in turn, enrich end users' quality of experience and service. These solutions collectively support RAN capacity planning and management and widen the profit margins of operators.

The advent of 5G as well as advances in software defined networks (SDN), virtualization of network functions, the Internet of Things (IoT) and the proliferation of self-optimizing networks (SON) will all bolster the RAN capacity planning market. However, inadequate end-user expertise in incorporating solutions onto the network infrastructure and the use of function-rich network elements by network operators, particularly in Asia-Pacific, could somewhat curb the potential of smarter third-party solutions. The presence of established participants with end-to-end solutions also raises market entry barriers.

Moreover, by increasing the utilisation rates of individual network elements, solution providers will gain more market share from network equipment vendors. Both testing and network equipment vendors can resolve this issue by collaborating with each other, as partnerships will increase the reliability of network elements and enhance the presence of RAN capacity management solutions across geographies. Smart RAN capacity management solutions will further help address the high costs of human capital for network operators.

Overall, RAN capacity management solutions, despite their nascence, promise high adaptability for operators due to the renewed focus on network automation. By 2020, the RAN capacity planning and management market which is categorized into probe-based RAN capacity planning and optimizing solutions, RAN-specific traffic management solutions, RAN-specific data analytics, and radio frequency (RF)-based, will reach an estimated $659.3 million. This translates into a healthy double-digit compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.1 percent between 2015 and 2020.