4G Gets Attention But 2G, 3G Still Garner Revenue

— February 02, 2011

LTE equipment expenditure is expected to ramp up quickly in 2011. ABI Research estimates that LTE equipment spending will grow 120% in 2011 to reach almost $1 billion. This increase is supported by more than 185 deployments and trials around the world.

“A number of operators believe the market is ready for 4G LTE services, and not only catering to corporate users looking for a faster wireless data connection but also to prosumers and social networkers with media-rich interests,” comments practice director Aditya Kaul.

While LTE’s first soft-commercial launches were in Europe, it is in the U.S. that the most aggressive rollout of 4G services is taking place in order to underpin 4G consumer and enterprise services. MetroPCS has commitments to introduce half a dozen Android LTE smartphones in early 2011. Verizon is planning to make 10 LTE devices available by mid-2011. AT&T and T-Mobile are bringing forward their LTE plans.

However, VP for forecasting Jake Saunders notes, “Despite the hype and rhetoric surrounding 4G, the wireless infrastructure deployment market is still largely dominated not just by 3G upgrades but even by 2G (GSM-EDGE) swap-outs and coverage buildouts.” In China, for example, China Mobile has been concluding a major TD-SCDMA push to extend coverage and to improve quality of service for existing covered areas. More than $22 billion has been spent on TD-SCDMA equipment to date. Wireless infrastructure spending will migrate to TD-LTE. China Mobile has been intensively trialling TD-LTE in Shanghai and other cities.

While mobile voice service revenues are on a declining trajectory in many developed markets, equipment spending on 2.xG infrastructure has not gone away. In fact GSM/GPRS/EDGE equipment outlay is likely to represent approximately 31% of the market, or more than $17.5 billion, in 2011. In many emerging markets, there is still a robust need to improve cell capacity not just for voice calls but also for data. A considerable amount of messaging, both text and instant messaging, is carried over 2G bearer channels.

ABI Research’s “Wireless Infrastructure Market Data” (http://www.abiresearch.com/research/1003902) includes a range of wireless base station data and new base station deployments, broken down by region and technology.

It is a key part of the firm’s Mobile Networks Research Service (http://www.abiresearch.com/products/service/Wireless_Infrastructure_Research_Service).

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