Global Macrocell Base Band Unit Shipments Down 23% in 2018

According to a new report from EJL Wireless Research, the number of digital baseband units (BBU) shipped globally experienced a decline for the first time in six years, in 2018. The last downturn, according to EJL, happened in 2011. However the decline in 2018 was 23% compared to a 12% drop back then. The report states that the anticipation or anxiety of 5G spectrum auctions in Europe and software upgrades to LTE-Advanced and NB-IoT contributed to the overall weakness in shipments.

EJL Wireless has forecasted a modest growth of 6% for LTE BBU shipments compared with a more than 10x increase for 5G NR BBU shipments, resulting in total BBU shipment growth of 11% for 2019. Their current view for 2020 BBU shipments is for zero growth, with declining LTE BBU shipments being offset by increased 5G NR BBU shipments.

According to the market report, Huawei Technologies regained its leadership position overall for BBU shipments, narrowly edging out Ericsson. However, Huawei was the clear leader for 5G NR shipments in 2018. Within 5G NR, Samsung Networks was number two in EJL’s market share rankings for 2018 due to the demand in South Korea.

Regionally, China has been the main driver for 5G NR shipments in 2019, followed by South Korea, Japan and the United States along with initial deployments in Europe. Despite the current U.S. export ban for Huawei Technologies, EJL does not sees any impact to shipments supporting the further expansion of the 5G commercial trial networks for China Mobile in 2019. Regarding massiveMIMO 64T64R for 5G NR below 6GHz, besides China, EJL does not expects widespread adoption for this configuration and believes that Europe will focus more on 8×8 MIMO using traditional 8T8R RRUs and passive antennas and using the massive MIMO 64T64R solution in a more surgical role.

Click here to read the full report.