Network operators will spend more than $2 billion on 5G backhaul by 2022, according to Communications Industry Researchers (CIR). Nearly 60% of this money will go toward fiber-optic network deployments, the market research firm states in "Optical Networking Opportunities in 5G Wireless Networks: 2017-2026."
The "backhaul" figures include fronthaul and midhaul as well as classic backhaul, a source at CIR confirmed. Taken together in this way, operators in the United States will make more than half of the 5G backhaul networking investments over the next decade, according to CIR. However, China and South Korea will offer the fastest-growing opportunities for those who hope to support 5G mobile backhaul requirements. CIR expects Chinese service providers will spend more than $130 million on 5G backhaul in 2022, while Korea will step up spending to support the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Among optical network technologies, NG-PON2 will emerge as the go-to fiber network architecture for 5G backhaul in CIR's estimation. The market research firm points to Verizon's near-term NG-PON2 deployment plans as well as Huawei's support of the technology as indications of its market positioning. However, CIR points out that the technology will have to meet cost expectations if it is to fulfill its promise (see also "NG-PON2 tunable transceiver work shows signs of progress"). Technology suppliers will experiment with both DFB and DBR lasers in the tunable transceivers NG-PON2 systems will require, CIR predicts. Other new technologies that will receive scrutiny include new kinds of optical splitters and fiber designed to support space-division multiplexing (SDM) deployment, the market research firm believes. And speaking of fiber, fiber-optic cable vendors are predicted to ship more than 280,000 fiber km of fiber cable in 2022 to support 5G backhaul.
"Optical Networking Opportunities in 5G Wireless Networks: 2017-2026" discusses emerging opportunities for optical networking companies in the 5G backhaul sector, especially those in the Carrier Ethernet, WDM, SDM, and PON sectors among all of the major geographic markets. The report provides 10-year forecasts for these areas, with volume and value projections of optical systems, modules, and the cable requirements for each. The report also forecasts niche opportunities for free-space optics and millimeter wave radio for 5G backhaul, as well as quantifies the potential role of dark fiber.
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