The LTE equipment market is forecasted to rise to $17.5bn in 2016
The global 2G, 3G, and 4G equipment market declined by 14% to under $10bn in the first quarter of 2012 (1Q12) after an 8% increase the previous quarter, according to Infonetics Research.
Infonetics Research mobile infrastructure and carrier economics principal analyst Stéphane Téral said the overall mobile infrastructure market took a beating in the first quarter of 2012.
"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," the research firm added.
"LTE and WiMAX equipment revenue also declined sequentially."
Nonetheless, LTE spending has grown by 128% from the year-ago first quarter and the LTE equipment market is forecast to rise to $17.5bn in 2016 as the number of mobile operators committing to LTE continues to increase rapidly.
The overall 2G, 3G, and 4G infrastructure market, including LTE and WiMAX equipment, is down 8%.
One bright spot, the 3G mobile packet core network equipment including GGSNs, SGSNs, PDSNs, were up by 4% and up 5% from 1Q11, reflecting ongoing 3G expansion activity tied to 2G modernisation.
Nearly 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
Infonetics forecasts a rise in TD-SCDMA equipment spending this year due to China Mobile’s expanding TD-LTE trials aimed at helping it move quickly to 4G.