A new Competitive Assessment by global tech market advisory firm ABI Research provides an in-depth and objective evaluation of the services offered by nine 5G Core and Edge players. The 5G Core network market, unlike preceding cellular generations, is very dynamic and rich. Large incumbents are, by and large, highly entrenched in key regions and have existing operator relationships they continue to cultivate. Pure-play software vendors, on the other hand, offer innovation and agility, particularly on evaluation criteria such as openness, public cloud integration, and time to market within the narrow scope of what they provide. The companies evaluated and ranked in this report include both established Network Equipment Vendors (NEVs) and new, challenger vendors. They are, in order of ranking, as follows:
Market Leaders: Huawei, Ericsson
Mainstream: Nokia, ZTE
Followers: Mavenir, Affirmed Networks (a Microsoft company), HPE, Samsung, Athonet
Huawei and Ericsson lead the mainstream vendor category for 5G core deployments. Huawei provides a competitive 5G core, edge, and AI capability that include both breadth and depth on a highly efficient foundation. Ericsson is another leader in the overall rankings with a very focused strategy for 5G Core in particular, and cellular in general. However, there is fierce competition from other NEVs like Nokia and ZTE who continue to compete to establish a strong position in the market. “Market dominance is contingent on vendor positioning and strategy, degree of focus on existing market requirements, and the size of the opportunity,” explains Don Alusha, Senior Analyst, 5G Core & Edge Networks at ABI Research.
Competing very fiercely with NEVs are pure-play software vendors who offer disruptive innovation and agility. These players are shaping their growth businesses with what constitutes “discontinuous innovation”. These vendors do not attempt to bring better products in the market. Rather, they disrupt and redefine the trajectory by introducing solutions that, in the early stages, may not be as performant as currently available products. “But innovation from these players offers other benefits—typically, they are simpler, offer convenience and flexibility, and less expensive products,” Alusha points out. ABI positions challenger vendors in a supplementary competitive ranking. In ranking order, they are as follows:
Challenger Overall Ranking: Mavenir, Affirmed Networks (a Microsoft company), HPE, Samsung and Athonet
Mavenir continues to exploit disruptive innovation to disrupt and redefine the trajectory of serving the market. Mavenir occupies the top spot among challengers. Affirmed Networks is a close second in the rankings and benefits significantly from a combination of a webscale, cloud-native 5G solution, and Microsoft’s public cloud capabilities. Vendors like HPE, Samsung, and Athonet are all champions of openness, ecosystem disaggregation and are advocating new cloud-like commercial models. These vendors stand to play a key role in the coming years.
“CSPs assert that going forward, they will keep working with large NEVs but also introduce ‘added value’ from disruptor vendors. NEVs may enjoy an important competitive advantage for product performance and scale. But challenger vendors can potentially be more agile. They can introduce new products faster because they can upgrade individual products without having to redesign everything. Ultimately, 5G Core platforms will be built on a foundation of a multi-vendor ecosystem that includes both the existing large NEVs and new, innovative challenger vendors,” Alusha concludes.
These findings are from ABI Research’s 5G Core and Edge Platforms competitive ranking report. This report is part of the company’s 5G Core & Edge Networks research service, which includes research, data, and analyst insights. Competitive Ranking reports offer comprehensive analysis of implementation strategies and innovation, coupled with market share analysis, to offer unparalleled insight into a company’s performance and standing in comparison to its competitors.
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