LTE & 5G NR in Unlicensed Spectrum: 2020 – 2030 – Opportunities, Challenges, Strategies & Forecasts

Release Date: December 2020

Number of Pages: 534

Number of Tables and Figures: 78


Over the past decade, the operation of 3GPP-based cellular networks in unlicensed spectrum has gone from being a perennial talking point to what is now a key element of mobile network densification strategies. Mobile operators across the globe are increasingly rolling out LTE RAN (Radio Access Network) infrastructure operating in unlicensed spectrum – primarily the globally harmonized 5 GHz band – to expand network capacity and deliver higher data rates, particularly in dense urban environments. These implementations are largely based on LAA (Licensed Assisted Access) technology which aggregates unlicensed channels with anchors in licensed spectrum to maintain seamless and reliable connectivity.

However, the practical applicability of unlicensed spectrum is not limited to the capacity enhancement of traditional mobile operator networks. Technical and regulatory initiatives such as MulteFire, CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) and sXGP (Shared Extended Global Platform) make it possible for enterprises, vertical industries, third-party neutral hosts and other new entrants to build and operate their own independent cellular networks solely in unlicensed spectrum without requiring an anchor carrier in licensed spectrum. Furthermore, in conjunction with the availability of new license-exempt frequencies such as the recently opened 6 GHz band from 5925 MHz to 7125 MHz, the introduction of 5G NR-U in 3GPP's Release 16 specifications paves the way for 5G NR deployments in unlicensed spectrum for both licensed assisted and standalone modes of operation. Given 5G's inherent support for reliability and time-sensitive networking, NR-U is particularly well suited to meet industrial IoT requirements for the automation and digitization of environments such as factories, warehouses, ports and mining sites.

Despite the economic slowdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, competition from non-3GPP wireless technologies and other challenges, SNS Telecom & IT estimates that global investments in LTE and 5G NR-ready RAN infrastructure operating in unlicensed spectrum will reach nearly $500 Million by the end of 2020. The market is further expected to grow at a CAGR of approximately 40% between 2020 and 2023, eventually accounting for $1.3 Billion by 2023.

The “LTE & 5G NR in Unlicensed Spectrum: 2020 – 2030 – Opportunities, Challenges, Strategies & Forecasts” report presents a detailed assessment of the market for LTE and 5G NR in unlicensed spectrum including the value chain, market drivers, barriers to uptake, enabling technologies, key trends, future roadmap, business models, use cases, application scenarios, standardization, spectrum availability/allocation, regulatory landscape, case studies, ecosystem player profiles and strategies. The report also provides global and regional forecasts for unlicensed LTE and 5G NR RAN infrastructure from 2020 till 2030. The forecasts cover two air interface technologies, two modes of operation, two cell type categories, seven frequency band ranges, seven use cases and five regional markets.

The report comes with an associated Excel datasheet suite covering quantitative data from all numeric forecasts presented in the report.


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Key Findings

The report has the following key findings:

  • Despite the economic slowdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, competition from non-3GPP wireless technologies and other challenges, SNS Telecom & IT estimates that global investments in LTE and 5G NR-ready RAN infrastructure operating in unlicensed spectrum will reach nearly $500 Million by the end of 2020. The market is further expected to grow at a CAGR of approximately 40% between 2020 and 2023, eventually accounting for $1.3 Billion by 2023.

  • As part of their network densification efforts, mobile operators across the globe are increasingly employing the use of LAA technology to aggregate licensed spectrum assets with unlicensed frequencies – primarily the globally harmonized 5 GHz band – in order to deliver higher data rates and alleviate capacity constraints across the most congested parts of their networks.

  • With the possibility to leverage the 3.5 GHz CBRS band on a GAA (General Authorized Access) basis in the United States and the availability of Japan's license-exempt 1.9 GHz sXGP band, independent cellular networks that can operate solely in unlicensed spectrum – without requiring an anchor carrier in licensed spectrum – are beginning to emerge as well. In addition, it is worth noting that a limited number of custom-built, standalone LTE networks operating in the unlicensed 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands are operational in certain national markets, predominantly for industrial IoT applications.

  • In the coming years, with the commercial maturity of 5G NR-U technology, we also anticipate to see 5G NR deployments in unlicensed spectrum for both licensed assisted and standalone modes of operation – using the 3.5 GHz CBRS, 5 GHz, 6 GHz and higher frequency bands up to 71 GHz.

Topics Covered

The report covers the following topics:

  • Introduction to LTE and 5G NR in unlicensed spectrum

  • Value chain and ecosystem structure

  • Market drivers and challenges

  • Enabling technologies and concepts including LTE-U, LAA/eLAA/FeLAA, 5G NR-U, MulteFire, CBRS and sXGP

  • Key trends such as mobile network densification, neutral host small cells, private cellular networks for enterprises and vertical industries, and the availability of new unlicensed bands

  • Future roadmap of LTE and 5G NR in unlicensed spectrum

  • Business models, use cases and application scenarios

  • Spectrum availability, allocation and usage across the global, regional and national domains

  • Standardization, regulatory and collaborative initiatives

  • Case studies of LTE and 5G NR-ready deployments in unlicensed spectrum

  • Profiles and strategies of more than 280 ecosystem players

  • Strategic recommendations for LTE and 5G NR equipment suppliers, system integrators, service providers, enterprises and vertical industries

  • Market analysis and forecasts from 2020 till 2030

Forecast Segmentation

Market forecasts for LTE and 5G NR-based RAN equipment operating in unlicensed spectrum are provided for each of the following submarkets and their subcategories:

  • Air Interface Technologies

    • Unlicensed LTE

    • 5G NR-U

  • Modes of Operation

    • Standalone Operation

    • LAA (Licensed Assisted Access)

  • Cell Types

    • Indoor Small Cells

    • Outdoor Small Cells

  • Frequency Bands

    • Sub-1 GHz

    • 1.9 GHz sXGP

    • 2.4 GHz

    • 3.5 GHz CBRS GAA

    • 5 GHz

    • 6 GHz

    • Higher Frequencies

  • Use Cases

    • Mobile Network Densification

    • FWA (Fixed Wireless Access)

    • Cable Operators & New Entrants

    • Neutral Hosts

    • Private Cellular Networks

      • Offices, Buildings & Corporate Campuses

      • Vertical Industries

  • Regional Markets

  • North America

  • Asia Pacific

  • Europe

  • Middle East & Africa

  • Latin & Central America

Key Questions Answered

The report provides answers to the following key questions:

  • How big is the opportunity for LTE and 5G NR in unlicensed spectrum?

  • What trends, drivers and challenges are influencing its growth?

  • What will the market size be in 2023, and at what rate will it grow?

  • Which submarkets and regions will see the highest percentage of growth?

  • What are the existing and candidate unlicensed spectrum bands for the operation of LTE and 5G NR, and what is the status of their adoption worldwide?

  • What is the outlook for the recently opened 6 GHz greenfield spectrum and license-exempt bands in higher frequencies?

  • What are the business models, use cases and application scenarios for LTE and 5G NR networks operating in unlicensed spectrum?

  • How does the integration of unlicensed spectrum relieve capacity constraints faced by traditional mobile operators?

  • What opportunities exist for cable operators, neutral hosts, niche service providers and other new entrants?

  • How will unlicensed spectrum accelerate the uptake of private cellular networks for enterprises and vertical industries?

  • How does standardization impact the deployment of LTE and 5G NR in unlicensed spectrum?

  • What are the functional capabilities of 5G NR-U based on the 3GPP's Release 16 specifications, and which NR-U feature enhancements are likely to be supported in Release 17?

  • Do Wi-Fi and other non-3GPP technologies operating in unlicensed spectrum pose a threat to LTE and 5G NR?

  • Who are the key ecosystem players, and what are their strategies?

  • What strategies should LTE and 5G NR equipment suppliers, system integrators, service providers and other stakeholders adopt to remain competitive?

Table of Contents

1 Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1 Executive Summary

1.2 Topics Covered

1.3 Forecast Segmentation

1.4 Key Questions Answered

1.5 Key Findings

1.6 Methodology

1.7 Target Audience

1.8 Companies & Organizations Mentioned

2 Chapter 2: An Overview of LTE & 5G NR in Unlicensed Spectrum

2.1 Spectrum: The Lifeblood of the Wireless Communications Industry

2.1.1 Traditional Exclusive-Use Licensed Spectrum

2.1.2 Unlicensed Spectrum Dedicated License-Exempt Bands Opportunistic Unlicensed Access

2.2 Why Utilize Unlicensed Spectrum for LTE & 5G NR Networks?

2.2.1 Alleviating Capacity Constraints on Mobile Operator Spectrum

2.2.2 New Business Models: Neutral Host, Enterprise & Private Cellular Networks

2.2.3 Resurgence of FWA (Fixed Wireless Access) Services

2.3 How Unlicensed Spectrum Differs From Traditional Licensed Frequencies

2.3.1 Exclusive vs. Shared Use

2.3.2 License Fees & Validity

2.3.3 Network Buildout & Service Obligations

2.3.4 LBT (Listen Before Talk) & Coexistence Mechanisms

2.3.5 Power Limits & Other Restrictions

2.4 The Value Chain of LTE & 5G NR in Unlicensed Spectrum

2.4.1 Chipset & Enabling Technology Specialists

2.4.2 Terminal OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers)

2.4.3 LTE & 5G NR Infrastructure Suppliers

2.4.4 Wireless Service Providers Mobile Operators Fixed-Line Service Providers MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) Towercos (Tower Companies) Neutral Hosts Private Network Operators

2.4.5 End Users Consumers Enterprises & Vertical Industries

2.4.6 Other Ecosystem Players

2.5 Market Drivers

2.5.1 Continued Growth of Mobile Data Traffic

2.5.2 New Revenue Streams: FWA, IoT & Vertical-Focused Services

2.5.3 Private & Neutral Host Network Deployments

2.5.4 Unlicensed Spectrum Availability

2.5.5 Lower Cost Network Equipment & Installation

2.5.6 Expanding Ecosystem of Compatible Devices

2.6 Market Barriers

2.6.1 Cell Site Deployment Challenges

2.6.2 Restricted Coverage Due to Transmit Power Limits

2.6.3 Interference & Congestion Concerns

2.6.4 Resistance From Other Spectrum Users

2.6.5 Competition From Non-3GPP Technologies

2.6.6 Economic & Pandemic-Related Factors

3 Chapter 3: Enabling Technologies & Concepts

3.1 LTE-U

3.1.1 Channel Selection

3.1.2 CSAT (Carrier Sensing Adaptive Transmission)

3.1.3 Opportunistic On-Off Switching

3.2 LAA (Licensed Assisted Access)

3.2.1 LBT (Listen Before Talk): Category 4 & Category 2 LBT

3.2.2 FS3 (Frame Structure Type 3) for Unlicensed Carriers

3.2.3 Other LAA Design & Operational Aspects

3.3 eLAA (Enhanced LAA)

3.4 FeLAA (Further Enhanced LAA)

3.5 5G NR-U (NR in Unlicensed Spectrum)

3.5.1 Modes of Operation Anchored NR-U Standalone NR-U

3.5.2 LBT-Based Channel Access

3.5.3 Air Interface Refinements for NR-U

3.5.4 Time-Synchronized NR-U & Future Developments

3.6 MulteFire

3.6.1 Supported Unlicensed Bands

3.6.2 Building on 3GPP-Specified LAA & eLAA Functionality

3.6.3 Modifications for Standalone Operation Without Licensed Anchor

3.6.4 Neutral Host Access, Cellular IoT Optimizations & Additional Capabilities

3.7 Japan's sXGP (Shared Extended Global Platform)

3.7.1 License-Exempt Operation of 1.9 GHz Private LTE Networks

3.7.2 LBT for Coexistence With PHS & Other sXGP Networks

3.7.3 Possible Use of 1.9 GHz as an Anchor Band for Local 5G Networks

3.8 United States' CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service)

3.8.1 Dynamic Three-Tiered Sharing of the 3.5 GHz CBRS Band

3.8.2 Tiers of Authorization Tier 1 – Incumbent Access Tier 2 – PALs (Priority Access Licenses) Tier 3 – GAA (General Authorized Access)

3.9 TVWS (TV White Spaces)

3.9.1 Database-Assisted Access to Unoccupied TV Channels

3.9.2 Possible Implementation Using 3GPP RAN Technologies

3.10 Integration & Aggregation With Unlicensed Non-3GPP Networks

3.10.1 Core Network-Centric Integration System-Level WLAN Offload in LTE Interworking With Non-3GPP Access Networks in 5G

3.10.2 RAN Centric Offload & Link Aggregation RALWI (RAN Assisted LTE-WLAN Interworking) RCLWI (RAN Controlled LTE-WLAN Interworking) LWA (LTE-WLAN Aggregation) eLWA (Enhanced LWA) LWIP (LTE-WLAN Radio Level Integration With IPsec Tunnel) eLWIP (Enhanced LWIP)

3.10.3 Multipath Protocols MPTCP (Multipath TCP) MPQUIC (Multipath Quick UDP Internet Connections)

3.10.4 Other Protocols & Techniques

4 Chapter 4: Business Models, Use Cases & Applications

4.1 Business Models & Use Cases

4.1.1 Service Provider Networks Mobile Network Densification & Build-Outs FWA (Fixed Wireless Access) Broadband Mobile Networks for Cable Operators & New Entrants

4.1.2 Neutral Host Networks Indoor Spaces Large Public Venues Transport Hubs & Corridors High-Density Urban Settings Remote and Rural Coverage

4.1.3 Private Cellular Networks Offices, Buildings & Corporate Campuses Vertical Industries Manufacturing Transportation Utilities Mining Oil & Gas Healthcare Education Retail & Hospitality Governments & Municipalities Other Verticals

4.2 Applications

4.2.1 Mobile Broadband

4.2.2 Home & Business Broadband

4.2.3 Voice & Messaging Services

4.2.4 High-Definition Video Transmission

4.2.5 Telepresence & Video Conferencing

4.2.6 Multimedia Broadcasting & Multicasting

4.2.7 IoT (Internet of Things) Networking

4.2.8 Wireless Connectivity for Wearables

4.2.9 Untethered AR/VR/MR (Augmented, Virtual & Mixed Reality)

4.2.10 Real-Time Holographic Projections

4.2.11 Tactile Internet & Haptic Feedback

4.2.12 High-Precision Positioning & Tracking

4.2.13 Industrial Automation

4.2.14 Remote Control of Machines

4.2.15 Connected Mobile Robotics

4.2.16 Unmanned & Autonomous Vehicles

4.2.17 BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line-of-Sight) Operation of Drones

4.2.18 Data-Driven Analytics & Insights

4.2.19 Sensor-Equipped Digital Twins

4.2.20 Predictive Maintenance of Equipment

5 Chapter 5: Unlicensed Spectrum Availability, Allocation & Usage

5.1 Candidate Frequency Bands for LTE & 5G NR in Unlicensed Spectrum

5.1.1 Sub-1 GHz Bands (470 – 700/800/900 MHz)

5.1.2 1.8 GHz DECT Guard Band (1780 – 1785 MHz, 1875 – 1880 MHz)

5.1.3 1.9 GHz sXGP/DECT Band (1880 – 1920 MHz)

5.1.4 2.4 GHz (2400 – 2483.5 MHz)

5.1.5 3.5 GHz (3550 – 3700 MHz) CBRS Band

5.1.6 5 GHz (5150 – 5925 MHz)

5.1.7 6 GHz (5925 – 7125 MHz)

5.1.8 57 – 71 GHz

5.1.9 Other Bands

5.2 North America

5.2.1 United States

5.2.2 Canada

5.3 Asia Pacific

5.3.1 Australia

5.3.2 New Zealand

5.3.3 Japan

5.3.4 South Korea

5.3.5 China

5.3.6 Hong Kong

5.3.7 Taiwan

5.3.8 Singapore

5.3.9 Malaysia

5.3.10 Indonesia

5.3.11 Philippines

5.3.12 Thailand

5.3.13 Vietnam

5.3.14 Myanmar

5.3.15 India

5.3.16 Pakistan

5.3.17 Rest of Asia Pacific

5.4 Europe

5.4.1 United Kingdom

5.4.2 Ireland

5.4.3 France

5.4.4 Germany

5.4.5 Belgium

5.4.6 Netherlands

5.4.7 Switzerland

5.4.8 Austria

5.4.9 Italy

5.4.10 Spain

5.4.11 Portugal

5.4.12 Sweden

5.4.13 Norway

5.4.14 Denmark

5.4.15 Finland

5.4.16 Estonia

5.4.17 Czech Republic

5.4.18 Poland

5.4.19 Greece

5.4.20 Turkey

5.4.21 Bulgaria

5.4.22 Romania

5.4.23 Hungary

5.4.24 Slovenia

5.4.25 Serbia

5.4.26 Russia

5.4.27 Rest of Europe

5.5 Middle East & Africa

5.5.1 Saudi Arabia

5.5.2 United Arab Emirates

5.5.3 Qatar

5.5.4 Kuwait

5.5.5 Israel

5.5.6 South Africa

5.5.7 Rest of the Middle East & Africa

5.6 Latin & Central America

5.6.1 Mexico

5.6.2 Brazil

5.6.3 Argentina

5.6.4 Colombia

5.6.5 Chile

5.6.6 Rest of Latin & Central America

6 Chapter 6: Standardization, Regulatory & Collaborative Initiatives

6.1 3GPP (Third Generation Partnership Project)

6.1.1 Releases 8-11: System-Level WLAN Offload

6.1.2 Release 12: RAN Assisted LTE-WLAN Interworking

6.1.3 Release 13: LAA, LWA, LWIP & RCLWI

6.1.4 Release 14: eLAA, eLWA, eLWIP & CBRS Band 48 Support

6.1.5 Release 15: Further Enhancements & LAA/eLAA (Band 49) for CBRS

6.1.6 Release 16: Anchored & Standalone 5G NR-U

6.1.7 Release 17 & Beyond: Future Evolution of 5G NR-U

6.2 ATIS (Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions)

6.2.1 IMSI Assignment & Management for CBRS

6.2.2 Additional CBRS-Related Efforts

6.3 CBRS Alliance

6.3.1 OnGo Certification Program for 3.5 GHz CBRS Equipment

6.3.2 CBRS Network Services & Coexistence Specifications Release 1: Baseline Specifications for LTE Systems in the 3.5 GHz Band Release 2: Enhanced Specifications in Preparation for OnGo Commercial Service Release 3: Incorporation of 3GPP’s 5G Definitions & Standards in the 3.5 GHz CBRS Band Release Independent Specifications for CBRS Identifiers

6.4 CEPT (European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations)

6.4.1 ECC (Electronic Communications Committee): Operational Guidelines & Technical Solutions for Spectrum Sharing in Europe

6.5 CTIA

6.5.1 Product Certification for 3.5 GHz CBRS Equipment

6.6 DSA (Dynamic Spectrum Alliance)

6.6.1 Advocacy Efforts to Promote Unlicensed & Dynamic Access to Spectrum

6.7 ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute)

6.7.1 BRAN (Broadband Radio Access Networks) Technical Committee: Harmonized Standards for Wireless Access Systems WSD (White Space Devices) Operating in the 470 – 790 MHz Band 5 GHz RLANs (Radio Local Area Networks) 6 GHz RLANs 60 GHz Multi-Gigabit Wireless Systems Other Relevant Work

6.8 IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force)

6.8.1 Standards & Protocols for Interworking Between 3GPP & Unlicensed Technologies

6.9 ITU-R (International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication Sector)

6.9.1 International Regulation of Unlicensed Spectrum

6.10 LTE-U Forum

6.10.1 Technical Specifications for LTE-U in Unlicensed 5 GHz Spectrum

6.11 MulteFire Alliance

6.11.1 Specifications for LTE/5G NR Operation in Unlicensed Spectrum Release 1.0: LTE Operation in the Unlicensed 5 GHz Band Release 1.1: Support for Industrial IoT & Sub-1/1.9/2.4 GHz Spectrum Bands

6.11.2 MulteFire Certification Program

6.12 NGMN Alliance

6.12.1 Unlicensed Spectrum-Related Activates

6.13 ONF (Open Networking Foundation)

6.13.1 Shared & Unlicensed Spectrum Support in the Aether 5G/LTE ECaaS (Edge-Cloud-as-a-Service) Platform

6.14 Small Cell Forum

6.14.1 Work Related to License-Exempt & Shared Spectrum Small Cells

6.15 WhiteSpace Alliance

6.15.1 Promoting the Use of 3GPP, IEEE & IETF Standards for TVWS Spectrum

6.16 WInnForum (Wireless Innovation Forum)

6.16.1 SSC (Spectrum Sharing Committee): CBRS Standards Release 1: CBRS Baseline Standards Release 2: Enhancements to CBRS Baseline Standards Administration of Root Certificate Authority, Professional Installer Training & CBSD Certification Programs

6.16.2 6MSC (6 GHz Multi-Stakeholder Planning Committee)

6.16.3 Other Committees

6.17 XGP (eXtended Global Platform) Forum

6.17.1 Development & Promotion of the sXGP Unlicensed LTE Service

6.18 Others

6.18.1 National Government Agencies & Regulators

6.18.2 Vertical Industry Associations

6.18.3 Non-3GPP Technology Alliances

7 Chapter 7: Case Studies of Unlicensed Spectrum Deployments

7.1 AT&T: Tapping Unlicensed Spectrum for Mobile Network Densification & FWA

7.1.1 Spectrum Type

7.1.2 Integrators & Suppliers

7.1.3 Deployment Summary

7.2 BBB (BB Backbone Corporation): 1.9 GHz sXGP-Based Private LTE Network Platform

7.2.1 Spectrum Type

7.2.2 Integrators & Suppliers

7.2.3 Deployment Summary

7.3 BYD SkyRail: Unlicensed 5 GHz Wireless System for Railway Communications

7.3.1 Spectrum Type

7.3.2 Integrators & Suppliers

7.3.3 Deployment Summary

7.4 Chunghwa Telecom: Utilizing Unlicensed 5 GHz Spectrum to Enhance Mobile Broadband Experience

7.4.1 Spectrum Type

7.4.2 Integrators & Suppliers

7.4.3 Deployment Summary

7.5 Dallas Love Field Airport: Private LTE Network for Internal Operations & Passenger Experience

7.5.1 Spectrum Type

7.5.2 Integrators & Suppliers

7.5.3 Deployment Summary

7.6 Gogo: Capitalizing on Unlicensed 2.4 GHz Spectrum for LTE/5G-Ready A2G (Air-to-Ground) Network

7.6.1 Spectrum Type

7.6.2 Integrators & Suppliers

7.6.3 Deployment Summary

7.7 Memorial Health System: LTE-Based CBRS Network to Support COVID-19 Response Efforts

7.7.1 Spectrum Type

7.7.2 Integrators & Suppliers

7.7.3 Deployment Summary

7.8 Midco (Midcontinent Communications): Shared & Unlicensed Spectrum for Rural Broadband Connectivity

7.8.1 Spectrum Type

7.8.2 Integrators & Suppliers

7.8.3 Deployment Summary

7.9 MTS (Mobile TeleSystems): Delivering Gigabit-Grade LTE Services Using LAA Technology

7.9.1 Spectrum Type

7.9.2 Integrators & Suppliers

7.9.3 Deployment Summary

7.10 Murray City School District: LTE-Based Private CBRS Network for K-12 Education

7.10.1 Spectrum Type

7.10.2 Integrators & Suppliers

7.10.3 Deployment Summary

7.11 NetCity (GEOS Telecom): Unlicensed Sub-1 GHz LTE Network for AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure)

7.11.1 Spectrum Type

7.11.2 Integrators & Suppliers

7.11.3 Deployment Summary

7.12 Ocado: Custom-Built LTE Network Over Unlicensed 5 GHz Spectrum for Warehouse Automation

7.12.1 Spectrum Type

7.12.2 Integrators & Suppliers

7.12.3 Deployment Summary

7.13 RCI (Rural Cloud Initiative): Building the Farm of the Future With CBRS Spectrum

7.13.1 Spectrum Type

7.13.2 Integrators & Suppliers

7.13.3 Deployment Summary

7.14 SmarTone: Effectively Managing Traffic Surges With Strategically Located LAA Small Cells

7.14.1 Spectrum Type

7.14.2 Integrators & Suppliers

7.14.3 Deployment Summary

7.15 URSYS: Bringing Cellular Connectivity to Rural Areas and Outlying Regions With Unlicensed Spectrum

7.15.1 Spectrum Type

7.15.2 Integrators & Suppliers

7.15.3 Deployment Summary

7.16 Verizon Communications: Exploiting 5 GHz & 3.5 GHz CBRS Spectrum to Address Capacity Demands

7.16.1 Spectrum Type

7.16.2 Integrators & Suppliers

7.16.3 Deployment Summary

7.17 Vodacom Group: Employing Unlicensed 5 GHz Spectrum To Improve LTE Network Capacity & Performance

7.17.1 Spectrum Type

7.17.2 Integrators & Suppliers

7.17.3 Deployment Summary

7.18 Yangshan Port: Unlicensed 5 GHz LTE Network for Automated Container Terminal Operations

7.18.1 Spectrum Type

7.18.2 Integrators & Suppliers

7.18.3 Deployment Summary

8 Chapter 8: Market Sizing & Forecasts

8.1 Global Outlook for LTE & 5G NR in Unlicensed Spectrum

8.2 Segmentation by Air Interface Technology

8.2.1 Unlicensed LTE

8.2.2 5G NR-U

8.3 Segmentation by Mode of Operation

8.3.1 Standalone

8.3.2 LAA

8.4 Segmentation by Cell Type

8.4.1 Indoor Small Cells

8.4.2 Outdoor Small Cells

8.5 Segmentation by Frequency Band

8.5.1 Sub-1 GHz

8.5.2 1.9 GHz sXGP

8.5.3 2.4 GHz

8.5.4 3.5 GHz CBRS GAA

8.5.5 5 GHz

8.5.6 6 GHz

8.5.7 Higher Frequencies

8.6 Segmentation by Use Case

8.6.1 Mobile Network Densification

8.6.2 FWA (Fixed Wireless Access)

8.6.3 Cable Operators & New Entrants

8.6.4 Neutral Hosts

8.6.5 Private Cellular Networks Offices, Buildings & Corporate Campuses Vertical Industries

8.7 Regional Outlook

8.7.1 North America

8.7.2 Asia Pacific

8.7.3 Europe

8.7.4 Middle East & Africa

8.7.5 Latin & Central America

9 Chapter 9: Key Ecosystem Players

9.1 6Harmonics/6WiLInk

9.2 ABiT Corporation

9.3 Accelleran

9.4 Accuver (InnoWireless)

9.5 ADRF (Advanced RF Technologies)

9.6 Affirmed Networks (Microsoft Corporation)

9.7 Airgain

9.8 Airspan Networks

9.9 Airtower Networks

9.10 Airwavz Solutions

9.11 Akoustis Technologies

9.12 Alef Edge

9.13 Allen Vanguard Wireless

9.14 Alpha Wireless

9.15 Altiostar Networks

9.16 Altran

9.17 Amazon

9.18 Amdocs

9.19 American Tower Corporation

9.20 Amit Wireless

9.21 Anritsu Corporation

9.22 ANS (Advanced Network Services)

9.23 Antenna Company

9.24 Anterix

9.25 Apple

9.26 Artemis Networks (Rearden)

9.27 ASOCS

9.28 ASTRI (Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute)

9.29 ASUS (ASUSTeK Computer)/Askey Computer Corporation

9.30 Athonet

9.31 ATN International

9.32 AttoCore

9.33 Axell Wireless

9.34 Azcom Technology

9.35 BAI Communications/Transit Wireless

9.36 Baicells Technologies

9.37 Ballast Networks

9.38 BearCom

9.39 BEC Technologies

9.40 Benetel

9.41 Billion Electric

9.42 Black Box Corporation

9.43 Blackned

9.44 Blue Arcus Technologies

9.45 Blue Danube Systems

9.46 Boingo Wireless

9.47 Branch Communications

9.48 BTI Wireless

9.49 Bureau Veritas/7Layers

9.50 BVSystems (Berkeley Varitronics Systems)

9.51 CableFree (Wireless Excellence)

9.52 CableLabs/Kyrio

9.53 Cambium Networks

9.54 Cambridge Consultants

9.55 Carlson Wireless Technologies

9.56 Casa Systems

9.57 CCI (Communication Components Inc.)/BLiNQ Networks

9.58 CCN (Cirrus Core Networks)

9.59 CellAntenna Corporation

9.60 cellXica

9.61 Celona

9.62 Centerline Communications

9.63 CICT (China Information and Communication Technology Group)/China Xinke Group

9.64 Cisco Systems

9.65 ClearSky Technologies

9.66 Codium Networks

9.67 Comba Telecom

9.68 CommAgility (Wireless Telecom Group)

9.69 CommScope/Ruckus Networks

9.70 Compal

9.71 COMSovereign

9.72 Connectivity Wireless Solutions (M/C Partners)

9.73 Contela

9.74 Corning

9.75 Council Rock

9.76 Cradlepoint (Ericsson)

9.77 Crown Castle International Corporation

9.78 CTS (Communication Technology Services)

9.79 Dali Wireless

9.80 Dejero Labs

9.81 DEKRA

9.82 Dell Technologies

9.83 Digi International

9.84 Digicert

9.85 DKK (Denki Kogyo)

9.86 Druid Software

9.87 EION Wireless

9.88 Encore Networks

9.89 Ericsson

9.90 ETRI (Electronics & Telecommunications Research Institute, South Korea)

9.91 EXFO

9.92 ExteNet Systems (Digital Colony)

9.93 Facebook

9.94 Fairspectrum

9.95 FCNT (Fujitsu Connected Technologies)/JEMS (Japan EM Solutions)

9.96 Federated Wireless

9.97 Fibrolan

9.98 FreedomFi

9.99 FRTek

9.100 Fujitsu

9.101 Future Technologies Venture

9.102 GCT Semiconductor

9.103 GE (General Electric)

9.104 Gemtek Technology

9.105 Geoverse (ATN International)

9.106 Getac Technology Corporation

9.107 Goodman Networks

9.108 Google (Alphabet)

9.109 Granite Telecommunications

9.110 Green Packet

9.111 HCL Technologies

9.112 HFR

9.113 Hitachi Kokusai Electric

9.114 Hon Hai Precision Industry (Foxconn Technology Group)

9.115 HP

9.116 HPE (Hewlett Packard Enterprise)

9.117 Huawei

9.118 Huber+Suhner

9.119 iBwave Solutions (Corning)

9.120 Infomark Corporation

9.121 Infosys

9.122 Infovista

9.123 Innonet

9.124 Inseego Corporation

9.125 Insta Group

9.126 Intel Corporation

9.127 Intenna Systems

9.128 InterDigital

9.129 IoT4Net

9.130 ip.access (Mavenir Systems)

9.131 IPLOOK Networks

9.132 iPosi

9.133 Jaton Technology

9.134 JCI (Japan Communications Inc.)/Contour Networks

9.135 JIT (JI Technology)

9.136 JMA Wireless

9.137 JRC (Japan Radio Company)

9.138 Juni Global

9.139 Kajeet

9.140 Key Bridge Wireless

9.141 Keysight Technologies

9.142 Kisan Telecom

9.143 KLA Laboratories

9.144 Kleos

9.145 KMW

9.146 KORE Wireless

9.147 Kyocera Corporation

9.148 Landmark Dividend

9.149 Lekha Wireless Solutions

9.150 Lemko Corporation

9.151 Lenovo/Motorola Mobility

9.152 LG Electronics

9.153 Lime Microsystems

9.154 Lindsay Broadband

9.155 Linx Technologies

9.156 LS telcom

9.157 Maven Wireless

9.158 Mavenir Systems

9.159 Metaswitch Networks (Microsoft Corporation)

9.160 Metro Network Services

9.161 MiCOM Labs

9.162 Microlab

9.163 Microsoft Corporation

9.164 MitraStar Technology (Unizyx Holding Corporation)

9.165 Mobile Mark

9.166 Mobilitie

9.167 Motorola Solutions

9.168 MRT Technology (Suzhou)

9.169 MSB (M S Benbow & Associates)

9.170 MTI (Microelectronics Technology, Inc.)

9.171 MTI Wireless Edge

9.172 Multi-Tech Systems

9.173 NEC Corporation

9.174 Nemko

9.175 Netgear

9.176 NetNumber

9.177 Netvision Telecom

9.178 NewEdge Signal Solutions

9.179 Nextivity

9.180 Node-H

9.181 Nokia

9.182 Nominet

9.183 Nsight Telservices

9.184 NuRAN Wireless/Nutaq Innovation

9.185 Oceus Networks

9.186 Octasic

9.187 OPPO/Vivo/OnePlus/Realme (BBK Electronics Corporation)

9.188 Oracle Communications

9.189 Panasonic Corporation

9.190 Panorama Antennas

9.191 Parallel Wireless

9.192 Parsec Technologies

9.193 Pavlov Media

9.194 PCTEL

9.195 PCTEST Lab (PCTEST Engineering Laboratory)

9.196 Pierson Wireless

9.197 Pivot Technology Services

9.198 Pivotal Commware

9.199 Polaris Networks

9.200 Potevio

9.201 QuadGen Wireless Solutions

9.202 Qualcomm

9.203 Quantum Wireless

9.204 Qucell (InnoWireless)

9.205 Quectel Wireless Solutions

9.206 Qulsar

9.207 Quortus

9.208 Radisys Corporation (Reliance Industries)

9.209 Ranplan Wireless

9.210 Raycap

9.211 RED Technologies

9.212 Redline Communications

9.213 RF Connect

9.214 RFS (Radio Frequency Systems)

9.215 Rivada Networks

9.216 RKTPL (RK Telesystem Private Limited)

9.217 Rohde & Schwarz

9.218 RuggON Corporation

9.219 Saankhya Labs

9.220 SAC Wireless (Nokia)

9.221 Samsung

9.222 Sanjole

9.223 SBA Communications Corporation

9.224 Select Spectrum

9.225 Seowon Intech

9.226 Sequans Communications

9.227 Sercomm Corporation

9.228 SGS

9.229 Shanghai Smawave Technology

9.230 Sharp Corporation/Dynabook (Foxconn)

9.231 Siemens

9.232 Sierra Wireless

9.233 Sivers IMA

9.234 Smart City Networks

9.235 SOLiD

9.236 Sony Corporation

9.237 Spectrum Effect

9.238 Spirent Communications

9.239 Sporton International

9.240 SQUAN

9.241 SSC (Shared Spectrum Company)

9.242 Star Solutions

9.243 STEP CG

9.244 STL (Sterlite Technologies Ltd)

9.245 Sunwave Communications

9.246 SureSite Consulting Group

9.247 Suzhou Aquila Solutions (Aquila Wireless)

9.248 Syniverse Technologies

9.249 T&W (Shenzhen Gongjin Electronics)

9.250 Tait Communications

9.251 Tango Networks

9.252 Taoglas

9.253 Teal Communications

9.254 Tecore Networks

9.255 Telewave

9.256 Teleworld Solutions

9.257 Telit Communications

9.258 Telrad Networks

9.259 Telsasoft

9.260 Tessares

9.261 TESSCO Technologies

9.262 ThinkRF

9.263 Tilson

9.264 TLC Solutions

9.265 TÜV SÜD

9.266 Ubicquia

9.267 UL

9.268 Valid8

9.269 Vapor IO

9.270 Vertical Bridge (Digital Colony)

9.271 Verveba Telecom

9.272 Viavi Solutions

9.273 Virtual Network Communications (COMSovereign)

9.274 Wave Wireless

9.275 Wavesight

9.276 Westell Technologies

9.277 Widelity

9.278 Wilson Electronics

9.279 Wilus

9.280 WIN Connectivity (Wireless Information Networks)

9.281 Winncom Technologies

9.282 WNC (Wistron NeWeb Corporation)

9.283 Wytec International

9.284 Zebra Technologies

9.285 ZenFi Networks

9.286 Zinwave (McWane)

9.287 Zmtel (Shanghai Zhongmi Communication Technology)

9.288 ZTE

9.289 Zyxel Communications (Unizyx Holding Corporation)

10 Chapter 10: Conclusion & Strategic Recommendations

10.1 Why is the Market Poised to Grow?

10.2 Future Roadmap: 2020 – 2030

10.2.1 2020 – 2024: Steady Growth of 5 GHz LAA, 3.5 GHz CBRS GAA & 1.9 GHz sXGP Deployments

10.2.2 2025 – 2029: Commercial Maturity of 5G NR-U for Industrial IoT Requirements

10.2.3 2030 & Beyond: Mass-Market Adoption of Unlicensed Cellular Networks

10.3 Which Unlicensed Frequency Bands Will Dominate the Market?

10.4 Leveraging 6 GHz Greenfield Spectrum for 5G NR-U Deployments

10.5 Outlook for 60 GHz & Higher Frequencies

10.6 Is Wi-Fi 6 a Threat to 5G NR-U?

10.7 Densification of Mobile Operator Networks in the 5G Era

10.8 The Emergence of New Entrants in the Cellular Industry

10.9 Private Cellular Networks for Industrial IoT

10.10 COVID-19 Pandemic: Impact on Unlicensed Spectrum Deployments

10.11 Strategic Recommendations

10.11.1 LTE/5G Equipment Suppliers & System Integrators

10.11.2 Mobile Operators, Neutral Hosts & Other Service Providers

10.11.3 Enterprises & Vertical Industries

List of Companies Mentioned

The following companies and organizations have been reviewed, discussed or mentioned in the report:

3GPP (Third Generation Partnership Project)

5G-ACIA (5G Alliance for Connected Industries and Automation)



Aaeon Technology

ABiT Corporation



ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority)

ADRF (Advanced RF Technologies)

Affirmed Networks


Airspan Networks

Airtower Networks

Airwavz Solutions

Akoustis Technologies

Alef Edge

Allen Vanguard Wireless

Alliance of Industrial Internet

Alpha Wireless


Altiostar Networks




American Tower Corporation

Amit Wireless

ANACOM (National Communications Authority, Portugal)

Anritsu Corporation

ANS (Advanced Network Services)

Antenna Company



ARCEP (Autorité de Régulation des Communications Électroniques)

ARIB (Association of Radio Industries and Businesses, Japan)

Artemis Networks

Askey Computer Corporation


ASTRI (Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute)

ASUS (ASUSTeK Computer)



ATIS (Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions)

ATN International


Axell Wireless

Azcom Technology

BAI Communications

Baicells Technologies

Ballast Networks

BBB (BB Backbone Corporation)

BBK Electronics Corporation


BEC Technologies


Billion Electric

Black Box Corporation


BLiNQ Networks

Blue Arcus Technologies

Blue Danube Systems

BNetzA (Federal Network Agency, Germany)

Boingo Wireless

Branch Communications

BTI Wireless

Bureau Veritas

BVSystems (Berkeley Varitronics Systems)


CableFree (Wireless Excellence)



Cambium Networks

Cambridge Consultants

Carlson Wireless Technologies

Casa Systems

CBRS Alliance

CCI (Communication Components Inc.)

CCN (Cirrus Core Networks)

CCSA (China Communications Standards Association)

CellAntenna Corporation



Centerline Communications

CEPT (European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations)

China Mobile

Chunghwa Telecom

CICT (China Information and Communication Technology Group)/China Xinke Group

Cisco Systems

CITC (Communications and Information Technology Commission, Saudi Arabia)

CITRA (Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority, Kuwait)

ClearSky Technologies

Codium Networks

Comba Telecom





Connectivity Wireless Solutions


Contour Networks


Council Rock


Crown Castle International Corporation


CTS (Communication Technology Services)

CTU (Czech Telecommunication Office)

Dali Wireless

Dallas Love Field Airport

Danish Energy Agency

Dejero Labs


Dell Technologies

Digi International


Digital Colony

DKK (Denki Kogyo)

Druid Software

DSA (Dynamic Spectrum Alliance)


EETT (Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission)

EION Wireless

ENACOM (Ente Nacional de Comunicaciones)

Encore Networks


ETRI (Electronics & Telecommunications Research Institute, South Korea)

ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute)


ExteNet Systems



FCNT (Fujitsu Connected Technologies)

Federated Wireless





Future Technologies Venture

GCT Semiconductor

GE (General Electric)

Gemtek Technology


Getac Technology Corporation


Goodman Networks


Granite Telecommunications

Green Packet

HCL Technologies


Hitachi Kokusai Electric

Hon Hai Precision Industry (Foxconn Technology Group)


HPE (Hewlett Packard Enterprise)

HTNG (Hospitality Technology Next Generation)



iBwave Solutions

IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force)

IIC (Industrial Internet Consortium)

IMDA (Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore)

Infomark Corporation





Inseego Corporation

Insta Group

Intel Corporation

Intenna Systems




IPLOOK Networks


ISED (Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada)

ITU-R (International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication Sector)

Jaton Technology

JCI (Japan Communications Inc.)

JEMS (Japan EM Solutions)

JIT (JI Technology)

JMA Wireless

JRC (Japan Radio Company)

Juni Global


Kementerian Kominfo (Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, Indonesia)

Key Bridge Wireless

Keysight Technologies

Kisan Telecom

KLA Laboratories



KORE Wireless

Kyocera Corporation


Landmark Dividend

Lekha Wireless Solutions

Lemko Corporation


LG Electronics

Lime Microsystems

Lindsay Broadband

Linx Technologies

LS telcom

LTE-U Forum

M/C Partners

Maven Wireless

Mavenir Systems

MCMC (Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission)


Memorial Health System

Metaswitch Networks

Metro Network Services

MIC (Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan)

MiCOM Labs


Microsoft Corporation

Midco (Midcontinent Communications)

MitraStar Technology

Mobile Mark


Motorola Mobility

Motorola Solutions

MRT Technology (Suzhou)

MSB (M S Benbow & Associates)

MSIT (Ministry of Science and ICT, South Korea)

MTI (Microelectronics Technology, Inc.)

MTI Wireless Edge

MTS (Mobile TeleSystems)

MulteFire Alliance

Multi-Tech Systems

Murray City School District

NBTC (National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, Thailand)

NEC Corporation


NetCity (GEOS Telecom/GEOS Holding)



Netvision Telecom

NewEdge Signal Solutions


NGMN Alliance




Nsight Telservices

NTC (National Telecommunications Commission, Philippines)

NuRAN Wireless

Nutaq Innovation


Oceus Networks


Ofcom (Office of Communications, United Kingdom)


ONF (Open Networking Foundation)


Oracle Communications

Panasonic Corporation

Panorama Antennas

Parallel Wireless

Parsec Technologies

Pavlov Media


PCTEST Lab (PCTEST Engineering Laboratory)

Pierson Wireless

Pivot Technology Services

Pivotal Commware

Polaris Networks


PTA (Pakistan Telecommunication Authority)

QuadGen Wireless Solutions


Quantum Wireless


Quectel Wireless Solutions



Radisys Corporation

Ranplan Wireless

RATEL (Regulatory Agency for Electronic Communications and Postal Services, Serbia)


RCI (Rural Cloud Initiative)



RED Technologies

Redline Communications

Reliance Industries

RF Connect

RFS (Radio Frequency Systems)

Rivada Networks

RKTPL (RK Telesystem Private Limited)

Rohde & Schwarz

Ruckus Networks

RuggON Corporation

Saankhya Labs

SAC Wireless



SBA Communications Corporation

Select Spectrum

Seowon Intech

Sequans Communications

Sercomm Corporation

SGCC (State Grid Corporation of China)


Shanghai Smawave Technology

Sharp Corporation


Sierra Wireless

SIPG (Shanghai International Port Group)

Sivers IMA

Small Cell Forum

Smart City Networks


SoftBank Group


Sony Corporation

Sony Mobile Communications

Spectrum Effect

Spirent Communications

Sporton International


SSC (Shared Spectrum Company)

Star Solutions


STL (Sterlite Technologies Ltd)

Subtel (Subsecretaría de Telecomunicaciones de Chile)

Sunwave Communications

SureSite Consulting Group

Suzhou Aquila Solutions (Aquila Wireless)

Syniverse Technologies

T&W (Shenzhen Gongjin Electronics)

Tait Communications

Tango Networks


Teal Communications

Tecore Networks


Teleworld Solutions

Telit Communications

Telrad Networks



TESSCO Technologies



TIM (Telecom Italia Mobile)

TLC Solutions

TRA (Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, United Arab Emirates)

Traficom (Transport and Communications Agency, Finland)

Transit Wireless

Trilogy Networks

TSDSI (Telecommunications Standards Development Society, India)

TTA (Telecommunications Technology Association, South Korea)

TTC (Telecommunication Technology Committee, Japan)


U.S. FCC (Federal Communications Commission)


UKE (Office of Electronic Communications, Poland)


Unizyx Holding Corporation



Vapor IO


Verizon Communications

Vertical Bridge

Verveba Telecom

Viavi Solutions

Virtual Network Communications


Vodacom Group

Wave Wireless


WBA (Wireless Broadband Alliance)

Westell Technologies

WhiteSpace Alliance


Wi-Fi Alliance

Wilson Electronics


WIN Connectivity (Wireless Information Networks)

Winncom Technologies

WInnForum (Wireless Innovation Forum)

Wireless Telecom Group

WNC (Wistron NeWeb Corporation)

Wytec International

XGP (eXtended Global Platform) Forum

Yangshan Port

Zebra Technologies

ZenFi Networks


Zmtel (Shanghai Zhongmi Communication Technology)


Zyxel Communications