Shipments of remote radio units (RRU) and antenna radio systems (ARS) were up 19 percent in 2017, according to market analyst Earl Lum. China’s 800/900 MHz NB-IoT upgrades, coupled with growth in India and Europe offset weakness in North America and Asia. Lum credits Huawei with the largest LTE and overall market share based on shipments.

However, 2017's growth will be short lived: Lum sees macrocell RRU/ARS shipments declining 18 percent in 2018, reflecting lower capital equipment spending in China, operator consolidation in India and softness in Asia Pacific.

“CAPEX guidance for China continues to drop, but NB-IoT upgrades are expected to continue in 2018. Our thesis for 4T4R RRU upgrades remains intact, given the doubling of shipments in 2017. LTE massive MIMO demand continues to grow, driven by deployments in China and India. We expect initial 5G NR millimeter wave networks to be deployed in the United States in the second half of 2018, while larger scale field trials are initiated in China.


“Specifically, within the United States for sub-6 GHz 5G NR ARS, Sprint will be a major driver for n41 2500 MHz massive MIMO ARS over the next several years, while AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless focus on microwave 5G NR ARS deployments in the n257 28 GHz and n260 39 GHz spectrum,” said Lum.

Lum believes Samsung Networks is well-positioned to gain significant market share in the U.S. for LTE and 5G NR radio access equipment.

Lum's analysis and forecast are available in Global Macrocell RRU/ARS Market Analysis and Forecast, 2018-2022 2nd Edition, published by EJL Wireless Research.