Worldwide shipments of radio units (RUs) and active antenna units (AAUs) for mobile wireless networks across all generations and air interfaces declined by 7 percent in 2022 from 2021 levels, according toareport from EJL Wireless Research titled “Global Macrocell Radio Unit/Active Antenna Unit (RU/AAU) Market Analysis and Forecast, 2023-2027 5th Edition.” “Massive MIMO AAU shipments increased 45 percent in 2022 however this was not enough to offset a 20 percent decline in non-massive MIMO RUs,” says founder and president Earl Lum. EJL Wireless Research is forecasting near to mid-term weakness for the radio market as demand weakens in China, offsetting strong shipment growth in India. Our current view for 2023 RU/AAU shipments is for a decline of 13 percent as 5G NR massive MIMO AAU shipments overtake legacy LTE/UMTS/GSM RU shipments.

“The continued evolution of the RU products from single band to dual/triple band products is driving the decline in overall 4T4R RUs shipments. While the combined 4T4R segment remained the largest at 60 percent share in 2022, we expect share gains from the 64T64R massive MIMO segment in 2023 to reach near parity in 2023,” says Lum.

“Within the Open RAN/vRAN compliant radio market, the traditional correlation of RU/AAU vendor to DU/BBU vendor becomes blurry as some mobile operators mix/match radio solutions with varying degrees of success. We do not expect to see complete radio performance parity of Open RAN RU/AAU solutions with purpose built solutions in the near/mid-term of our forecast and possibly never,” says Lum.