Self-Organizing Network Market Growth

NFV/SDN/VirtualizationSystems IntegrationTechnologies & Equipment

The demand for self-organizing networks (SON) is swelling, driven by the need for automation as humans struggle to manage increasingly complex networks. And 3G Evolved High Speed Packet Access (HSPA+) has been the chief force behind SON, not Long Term Evolution (LTE).

Combined, 2G/3G optimization and SON worldwide revenue grew 18% year-over-year in 2015, totaling $5.1 billion.

As a result of AT&T’s and KDDI’s 3G and 4G SON deployments, in addition to a flurry of minor ones around the world for 3G optimization, SON revenue reached $2.2 billion last year — 48% more than the size of the 2014 market. In addition, large European service providers such as BT/EE, Orange, Telefónica, and Vodafone, are deploying or have deployed SON across their multiple networks.

The chief driver for SON to date has been HSPA+. We found that more than 80% of mobile operators worldwide are using SON for 3G/HSPA/HSPA+ optimization. As LTE rollouts are reaching their peak — with more than 500 commercial LTE networks worldwide — we are hearing from mobile operators that LTE is extremely reliable and fully optimized, while 3G optimization remains a chief concern and 2G is doing fine.

When it comes to the flavors of SON, C-SON still rules over distributed SON (D-SON). Moreover, the C-SON segment is no longer dominated by SON specialist vendors such as Amdocs and Cisco but rather by Tier 1 mobile network vendor Nokia. Last year’s acquisition of Eden Rock Communications has really paid off for Nokia, which scored a major win at Orange in August 2016.

By 2020, the global 2G/3G optimization and SON market is forecast to hit $7 billion.

As network complexity continues to rise, the need to reduce OpEx and remove humans — and the errors they inevitably introduce — from the equation goes on unabated.

This information is from a recent IHS Markit SON and optimization report.

About Stephane Teral

Stéphane Téral, is Research Director, Mobile Infrastructure and Carrier Economics, IHS Technology. He is a Senior Principal Analyst within the IHS Technology group. For more information, please visit