LightTrends Newsletter

The SON keeps shining, the RIC stalls, and the SMO waits

October 2022

LightCounting releases its annual Network Automation Report: SON, RIC, SMO.

LightCounting tracks the evolution of mobile network automation from 3GPP’s Self-Organizing Network (SON) to the radio access network (RAN) intelligent controller named RIC, which with the involvement of the Open RAN Alliance (O-RAN Alliance), the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) sets the stage for the SON decomposition into non-Real Time RIC rApps, currently handled by C-SON (centralized SON), and near-Real Time RIC xApps, currently handled by D-SON (distributed SON). In addition, the O-RAN Alliance defined an SMO entity that performs the overall management and orchestration of the open RAN domain for non-latency sensitive activities and is composed of an operations support system (OSS), orchestration, and non-Real Time RIC.

“The RIC and SMO market takeoff that we anticipated by yearend is not materializing and instead, SON keeps shining while RIC, baked in the O-RAN Alliance, is being pushed out by the global open RAN market lull until 2024. Regarding the SMO, a need to cover all radios rather than just shiny open RAN radios is emerging and delaying its adoption,” said Stéphane Téral, Chief Analyst at LightCounting Market Research.

Our major findings in the report are:

  • The global C-SON software and services market grew again at low single digit in 2021 and similar growth rate is expected by yearend
  • If all 800 LTE commercial networks had a C-SON, global sales would roughly be in the range of the OSS market. But that is not the case and as a result, C-SON software and services sales are just above the $1B bar and growing at a low single digit CAGR
  • From the dozens of C-SON vendors who entered the market as it took off a decade ago, less than 10 are left, market share is led by Nokia.
  • The SMO market is poised for a rapid ramp up in the 2024-2025 timeframe, and will be the largest opportunity; a huge RIC/SMO ecosystem is building up and includes SON specialists, traditional RAN and open RAN vendors, hyperscalers, and system integrators
  • The near-Real Time RIC market is unleashing D-SON use cases that until now were proprietary and controlled by RAN vendors
  • By 2027, we expect 68% of C-SON sales and services to be in the form of a non-Real Time rApps

About the report:

Defined by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) at the beginning of this century, SON algorithms configure and optimize mobile networks automatically without human interaction. As networks handle vast amounts of traffic and become more and more sophisticated and complex through the addition of several generations, SON algorithms are blended with machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence algorithms. LightCounting’s Network Automation: SON, RIC, SD-RAN Report tracks the centralized SON (C-SON) software and services revenue market, provides size, forecast and vendor market shares, and analyzes the evolution of C-SON modules and use cases becoming apps in the RIC needed in open RAN, open virtual RAN, and software defined RAN (SD-RAN) architectures. This report also tracks the O-RAN defined service management and orchestration (SMO) market and provides a breakdown between non-Real Time RIC rApps and near-Real Time RIC xApps.

Companies covered in this report include: Acceleran, AirHop Communications, Altiostar (now Rakuten Symphony), Altran, Amdocs, Cellwize (now Qualcomm), Cohere Technologies, Continual, Ericsson, HCL Technologies, Huawei, Innovile, Intel, Juniper Networks, Mavenir, Nokia, P.I Works., Parallel Wireless, and VMware.

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