Neutral hosts and managed service providers will face a US$1.3 billion opportunity in the enterprise cellular connectivity market by 2030, according to a new report from global technology intelligence firm ABI Research. Most interestingly, this is not only driven by verticals with a traditional strong neutral host presence, i.e., commercial real estate, media & entertainment, healthcare, or stadiums & event locations. Key findings by ABI Research suggest that more than 65% of the revenue opportunity lies in industrial manufacturing, logistics/warehousing, and energy generation.
“These findings open a range of interesting themes for enterprise connectivity,” says Leo Gergs, Principal Analyst for Enterprise Connectivity and 5G Markets at ABI Research. “First, it shows the growing importance of neutral hosts and managed service providers to bring connectivity to different enterprise verticals. Our discussions with enterprises from various industries revealed that it is not the traditional neutral host delivery architecture but their legacy and experience as a managed service provider that drives this opportunity.”
Enterprises currently maneuver through harsh macroeconomic conditions. Recent geopolitical events have resulted in exorbitantly high energy prices. According to Gergs, “This means that enterprises are now faced with increased production costs, which is driving demand for digitalization powered by private cellular networks. At the same time, it squeezes investment budgets. Consequentially, enterprises are not able to invest vast amounts of capital into building up their own network infrastructure, so they tend to decide to partner with neutral hosts or managed service providers to utilize cellular connectivity in a managed service model.”
In 2023, the significance of neutral host providers in private cellular networks became evident. Various vendors, including Federated Wireless, Celona (in collaboration with T-Mobile), and Kajeet, launched neutral solutions, showcasing the appeal of the neutral host delivery model. Additionally, Boldyn Networks announced plans to acquire private network operator Edzcom from Cellnex, marking a notable acquisition in the private networks sector. Gergs believes this acquisition could benefit both companies, with Boldyn gaining expertise and Edzcom accessing Boldyn's extensive multinational presence for business growth.
While an acquisition certainly opens new opportunities for all players involved, they should also remember that acquisitions carry certain business economic risks and should only be carefully considered. “Telco service providers should see acquisitions as a starting point rather than an end. Successful integration of different business and organizational structures will take considerable time and resources. Careful alignment, however, is imperative for any acquisition to bear its desired fruits in the long term,” Gergs concludes.
These findings are from ABI Research’s Neutral Host in Enterprise Cellular: Best Practice Case Studies application analysis report. This research is part of the company’s 5G Markets research service, which includes research, data, and analyst insights. Based on extensive primary interviews, Application Analysis reports present an in-depth analysis of key market trends and factors for a specific technology.
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