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LTE/5G network deployments to reach 13,500 by 2026

According to Research and Markets, there were a total of 1,400 private LTE/5G networks deployed across the world at the end of 2021, including trial and pilot deployments. With the growing momentum around private LTE and more local 5G spectrum becoming available across regions, the private LTE/5G network market is set to grow significantly in the next years.

Until 2026, the analyst forecasts that the number of private LTE/5G network deployments will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 57 percent to reach 13,500 networks at the end of the period.

Private LTE/5G networks, referred to as non-public networks by the 3GPP, are networks that use spectrum defined by the 3GPP and LTE or 5G NR base stations, small cells, and other radio access networks (RAN) infrastructure to transmit voice and data to edge devices. For the purpose of this report, the publisher defines a private cellular network as a 3GPP-based private LTE/5G network built for the sole use of a private entity such as an enterprise or government organization.

Advancements in cellular technology, along with the increasing availability of dedicated spectrum for industries are currently transforming the private cellular network market from a niche to a substantial market. These developments open up a range of opportunities for the cellular ecosystem, fuelling a new wave of investments by established network equipment vendors but also attracting new entrants into the space.

The major RAN vendors (Ericsson, Nokia, and Huawei) all play significant roles as integrated solution providers and are challenged by several smaller RAN equipment providers. Notably, Nokia became the first vendor to offer a private LTE/5G solution as-a-service with the introduction of the Nokia DAC in 2018 and has been followed by a host of other players across the ecosystem in recent times. Small cell and other RAN equipment vendors such as Airspan Networks, JMA Wireless, Mavenir, CommScope, and Samsung Networks provide competitive LTE/5G radio products.

Important specialized core network software vendors include Druid Software, Athonet, Quortus (acquired by Cradlepoint/Ericsson in December 2021), as well as Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch (both part of Microsoft since mid-2020). In line with the trend of network functions virtualization, the major cloud service providers AWS and Microsoft have increased their focus on the telecommunications market.

Both offer private LTE/5G solutions with an as-a-service model together with RAN partners. Celona is another important new entrant in space. Founded by an experienced team of wireless networking professionals in 2019, Celona provides an integrated private LTE/5G solution in a single SaaS subscription. Most recently in early 2022, Cisco entered the market through the launch of its Private 5G as-a-service offering together with its partners Airspan Networks and JMA Wireless.

Private LTE/5G network deployments are growing from a small base, with an increasing number of organizations trialing or planning to deploy networks. The analysts estimates that there are today more than 1,000 private LTE networks deployed globally, serving a variety of use cases.

Private 5G network deployments are so far mainly concentrated on trial and pilot deployments and amount to an estimated 200-300 networks. Until 2026, the number of private LTE/5G network deployments is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 57 percent to reach 13,500 networks at the end of the period.

Spectrum availability is the most important enabling factor for the adoption of private LTE/5G networks. While the CBRS band in the US allows for both private LTE and 5G network deployments, organizations looking to deploy private LTE networks generally need to gain access to spectrum via mobile operators in most other markets.

National regulators in an increasing number of countries, especially in Europe, are introducing local licensing models for private 5G networks. The private 5G ecosystem is however still in an early stage, especially on the device side.

The 5G IoT device value chain starts at the chipset and module levels. Following the commercial availability of 5G NR modules in mid-2020, several cellular IoT gateway vendors have introduced devices supporting 5G NR connectivity. 5G NR modules supporting 3GPP Release 16 and URLLC capabilities are starting to become available in samples, meaning that IoT devices built on the modules are likely to be introduced later in 2022. A key accelerator for the adoption of 5G in less demanding applications will be support for reduced capability (RedCap) devices. The specification is part of the upcoming 3GPP Release 17.

The publisher expects that 5G NR IoT device shipments for private 5G networks will ramp up significantly starting in 2023, as more network trials convert into deployments. Annual 5G NR IoT device shipments for private 5G networks are forecasted to reach 850,000 units in 2026, driven by the manufacturing & warehousing, transport & logistics, and public safety & defense segments.


  • Insights from 20 new executive interviews with market-leading companies.
  • 360-degree overview of the private LTE/5G ecosystem.
  • Comprehensive overview of spectrum availability for private LTE/5G network deployments.
  • Profiles of the key private LTE/5G solution providers.
  • In-depth analysis of private LTE/5G network deployments worldwide.
  • Detailed market forecast on private LTE/5G network deployments and IoT
  • device shipments by technology and vertical market lasting until 2026.

CT Bureau

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