LTE infrastructure spending in 2015 will rise to $36.1bn, which will be four times more than 3.5G spending
Global capital spending on the wireless technology 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) is projected to reach $24.3bn in 2013, nearly triple the $8.7bn of 2012, as mobile carriers definitively migrate to the next-generation standard, according to a new report from IHS.
The IHS iSuppli Wireless Communications topical report said LTE infrastructure spending in 2015 will rise to $36.1bn, compared to just $9bn for 3.5G.
In 2013, 3.5G infrastructure technology will generate $19.8bn in revenue, and is expected to be overtaken by LTE due to the rapid growth.
IHS director and principal analyst for communications and consumer electronics research Jagdish Rebello said while 3.5G remains the dominant air interface technology in the mobile infrastructure market, the 4G LTE space has been gaining momentum.
"This trend started in the second half of 2009 when some wireless operators in Europe, North America, Japan and South Korea started to deploy LTE technology," Rebello added.
"The number of mobile network operators that are trialing, deploying or commercially operating 4G LTE networks now has grown to about 200 worldwide, up from 160 in 2010. And such widespread support will drive carrier spending on LTE to surpass 3.5G by next year."
LTE represents a strong revenue growth potential and an opportunity for infrastructure manufacturers and semiconductor suppliers, who can develop long-term relationships with carriers.
"To this end, manufacturers are developing hardware solutions labeled as "Any G to LTE" that support easy software upgrades to LTE, while maintaining backward compatibility with the legacy 2.5G and 2.75G wireless technologies still in use in some parts of the world," the report said.
"The vendors that will win in the transition to 4G will be those that can demonstrate cost-effective, upgradable solutions capable of delivering performance as defined by the LTE specifications," Rebello said.
LTE represents an all-Internet Protocol networking technology, supporting peak data rates that are significantly faster than the maximum speeds of 3.5G/3.7G technologies.
The 4G networks of the future must evolve to more heterogeneous architectures such as metro cells, which will be used to augment coverage or fill holes in areas of high data traffic and used alongside Wi-Fi hotspots to provide coverage in public spaces, IHS said.