Mobile Core Network Stagnant in 2021, Poised for Growth in 2022

Mobile Core Network Stagnant in 2021, Poised for Growth in 2022

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The total Mobile Core Network (MCN) and Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) market 2021 revenue growth slowed to the lowest rate since 2017, according to Dell’Oro Group. The growth rate is expected to go higher in 2022 with the expansion of the 21 commercial 5G Standalone (5G SA) MBB networks that were deployed by the end of 2021, coupled with new 5G SA networks readying to launch throughout the year.

“MCN revenues for 2021 were lower than expected due to an unexpectedly poor fourth-quarter performance. The revenues for 4Q21 were lower than in 4Q20. The last time that happened was in 4Q17,” stated Dave Bolan, Research Director at Dell’Oro Group. “The poor performance in 4Q21 was due to negative year-over-year revenue performance for the China region. The performance for the rest of the world was almost flat but still negative and was not enough to offset the decline in China.

“The growth in 2021 came from the 5G MCN segment and was not enough to offset the decline in 4G MCN and IMS Core. Of the 21 5G SA networks commercially deployed Huawei is the packet core vendor in seven of the networks, including the three largest networks in the world located in China, and Ericsson is the packet core vendor in 10 of the networks. Not surprisingly, of the top five vendors, only Huawei and Ericsson gained overall MCN revenue market share during 2021, ” added Bolan.

“Looking at the MEC market, MEC is still a fraction of the overall MCN market, but we believe two recent announcements by Ericsson are noteworthy because, in our opinion, Ericsson will accelerate the adoption of MEC and help 5G MNOs monetize their networks by coalescing MEC implementations around the 3GPP standards. Ericsson claims to be the first to leverage recent advancements by the 3GPP standards body for edge exposure, and network slicing all the way through to a smartphone,” concluded Bolan.

Top-ranked MCN vendors based on revenue in 2021 were Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia, ZTE, and Mavenir. The EMEA region was the only region to grow in revenue in 2021, while the APAC region was the largest in revenue for 2021.

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