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Seems like C-RAN is all the rage these days.

On the heels of news from AT&T that the carrier is moving toward a C-RAN architecture via its small cell deployments, rivals T-Mobile and Verizon have also revealed their own work on C-RAN is well underway.

Answering questions following T-Mobile’s earnings call Wednesday, CTO Neville Ray indicated the Un-carrier is in the midst of “multiple large scale C-RAN trials.” T-Mobile did not repond to requests for further detail, Ray said “exciting news” on that front is headed down the pipe later this year.

Verizon also confirmed to Wireless Week that work on its own C-RAN evolution is underway.

“Verizon began evolving to C-RAN (radio nodes connected to centralized basebands with dark fiber) in urban areas a few years ago,” a spokesman reported. “While we don’t disclose specific numbers of sites and hubs, we do have C-RAN hubs in several metro areas, including New York City.”

Verizon indicated it is seeing several different benefits from its implementation of the technology, including performance boosts as it moves forward with densification and lower costs.

Sprint did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The confirmation of C-RAN work across a majority of Tier-1 U.S. carriers follows initial comments from AT&T VP of RAN and Device Design Gordon Mansfield earlier this month detailing the carrier’s 5G evolution plans. According to Mansfield, the move to a C-RAN setup will set the stage for deeper virtualization down the line, which in turn will make it easier for the carrier to upgrade to 5G services once the 3GPP specifications are released. More on his comments here.

All this carrier work is expected to translate to a serious market opportunity.

SNS Research earlier this month reported C-RAN architecture networks are on track to hit global investment levels totaling nearly $9 billion by the end of this year. By 2020, virtualized and cloud RAN deployments are expected to account for almost 20 percent of all C-RAN investments.

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