COVID-19 fallout unlocks unique opportunities for the telecom industry to build out edge infrastructure

vRAN will become a major driver of edge compute scale-outs

Communication service providers (CSPs) that are driving forward with virtualized radio access network (vRAN), most notably Rakuten and Dish, will build many thousands of edge sites over the next few years to support their vRAN topologies. These edge sites will need to be located within 10 miles of the remote radio unit to meet the strict time synchronization requirements of vRAN. Additionally, these edge sites, which will house the virtualized baseband unit, can be multipurposed, supporting more workloads than just RAN traffic, which could unlock new monetization options for these CSPs.

CSP spend on edge compute infrastructure will grow at a TBR-projected 54.5% CAGR from 2019 to 2024 to reach $90B by 2025

TBR estimates CSPs will own or lease over 1.2 million local edge sites (i.e., mini data centers) globally by 2025, up from nearly 9,000 sites globally at the end of 2019. The primary driver of edge build-outs during the forecast period is telcos’ and cablecos’ network transformations, which entail migrating to a cloudified and virtualized network, and webscales’ edge initiatives to support their cloud businesses and digital ecosystem endeavors.

In this new architecture, network functions will be virtualized and housed in NFV infrastructure, which is essentially a data center. Network sites, such as central offices, have been the primary edge compute locations to date, with cell site builds expected to ramp up significantly in 2021 and become the primary locations for the CSP edge by 2025. Converted retail store locations and customer premises locations are other site types where CSPs will locate their edge infrastructure. For more information pertaining to the market size and for further breakouts of the data, see TBR’s Telecom Edge Compute Market Forecast.

TBR’s Telecom Edge Compute Market Landscape, which is global in scope, deep dives into the edge compute-related initiatives of stakeholders in the telecom market including telecom operators, cable operators, webscales and vendors that supply the telecom market. The research includes key findings, market size, regional summary, technology trends, use cases, operator and vendor positioning and strategies, and acquisition and alliance strategies and opportunities.

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