The global 2G, 3G, and 4G equipment market decreased 14% to just under $10 billion in the first quarter of 2012 following an 8% increase the previous quarter, reports market research firm Infonetics Research in its new report.
“The overall mobile infrastructure market took a beating in the first quarter of 2012,” says Stéphane Téral, principal analyst for mobile infrastructure and carrier economics at Infonetics Research (Campbell, Calif., USA). “We saw weak 2G and 3G activity across the board, exacerbated by China Mobile’s dramatic GSM pause on the heels of extraordinary shipment levels in the previous quarter.”
LTE and WIMAX equipment revenue also declined sequentially, says Téral. Despite the decline, LTE spending is up 128% from the year-ago first quarter, and the number of mobile operators committing to LTE continues to increase rapidly. Infonetics forecasts the LTE equipment market to grow to $17.5 billion in 2016.
From the year-ago first quarter, the overall 2G, 3G, and 4G infrastructure market, including LTE and WiMAX equipment, is down 8% in total.
One bright spot of the quarter is the 3G mobile packet core network equipment (GGSNs, SGSNs, PDSNs), which was up 4% sequentially and up 5% from 1Q11, reflecting ongoing 3G expansion activity tied to 2G modernization.
In total, 319 mobile operators have committed to LTE as of early May 2012, up from 285 the previous quarter, and 72 LTE operators have launched commercial services in 37 countries, according to the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA). In 1Q12, Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent are once again neck and neck in the race for global LTE revenue leadership, followed by Huawei, says Infonetics.
Infonetics expects a spike in TD-SCDMA equipment spending this year due to China Mobile’s expanding TD-LTE trials aimed at helping it move quickly to 4G.