According to Maravedis-Rethink, the radio access network (RAN) industry is poised for a serious shakeout in the next few years as RAN investments shift to software. “There is a real prospect of a shake-up in the RAN vendor landscape, and the winners will be those who innovate not just in network topology but in software," comments Research Director Caroline Gabriel. Small cells and distributed RANs reportedly are squeezing revenues from traditional base stations and, for mobile operators, these new networks can reduce data-delivery costs by 75 percent. And there’s more: Maravedis-Rethink research predicts capex will shift to small cells, accounting for $12 billion in spending by 2018, and the servers to run cloud RANs will hit $2.6 billion. In addition, offloading to seamless Wi-Fi will account for 50 percent of typical 3G traffic by 2016.

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