While more than 100 global operators have access to mmWave spectrum and are investing in the technology, revenue growth slowed in 2021 compared to the two previous years, according to research by Dell’Oro Group.

Dell’Oro analyst Stefan Pongratz said in an email to Mobile World Live that revenue growth for the mmWave market increased exponentially in both 2019 and 2020, but slowed to 15 – 20 per cent in 2021.

The growth rate in 2020 was around 80 per cent and significantly higher than that in 2019, but Pongratz noted 2018 was the first year of actual mmWave revenues so there was a lot of room for revenue growth.

While the 2021 revenue growth rate reflected a change of pace for mmWave, he stated market conditions are expected to improve in the APAC region in 2022.

Overall, the North American region, which includes mmWave proponents such as US operator Verizon, is still driving the lion’s share of the market.

“While mmWave New Radio investments have for the most part surprised on the upside relative to the expectations outlined three to four years ago, mmWave RAN revenues were weaker than what we outlined going into the year,” wrote Pongratz in a blog post.

“Still, we are not concerned about the slowdown and the implications for the long-term business case and see this more as a short-term calibration reflecting the fact that the sub-6 GHz spectrum still provides the most compelling RAN economics.”

His research note stated Ericsson leads the mmWave RAN vendor market.

Advantages of mmWave include carrying large amounts of data at very high speeds with low latency. It employs higher-frequency radio bands ranging from 24GHz to 40GHz. However its range is much more limited than lower band spectrum and mmWave will typically be deployed in specific venue locations and public areas.