The cellular infrastructure world is buzzing as LTE (Long Term Evolution) gains momentum to bring wireless customers one step closer to a viable 4G mobile network. According to new research from International Data Corporation (IDC), more than a dozen new networks are poised to go live this year, and spending on LTE will exceed WiMAX equipment spending by the end of 2011. Worldwide LTE infrastructure revenues will fall just below $8 billion by 2014.
The commitment level to LTE is high with more than 100 operators publicly supporting it, including nine of the ten largest mobile operators worldwide. "The world is coalescing around the LTE standard as a result of its promise to increase speed and capacity to address the exploding growth in mobile data traffic," said Godfrey Chua, research manager, Wireless and Mobile Infrastructure. "LTE is an important part of the portfolio of technology solutions that will enable mobile operators to cost-effectively deliver more innovative and robust data applications and services over the mobile network."
Despite its bright outlook, LTE is not without its challenges. There remain varying levels of commitment among operators and each announcement must be vetted individually. Spectrum regimes also remain unclear in many markets around the world. However, LTE's ability to reduce data delivery costs is fundamentally driving the technology forward. With data traffic significantly outpacing revenues, the need for technology and operational solutions that dramatically lower costs is critical to the future competitiveness of a mobile operator.
Additional findings from IDC's special study include the following:
* LTE provides capacity support/offload for 3G networks, making it a complementary technology in the near term.
* The LTE equipment race is experiencing a "land grab" between incumbent 3G market leader Ericsson and the fast rising Huawei, while Nokia Siemens and Alcatel Lucent work hard to remain relevant.
* In 2010, all LTE vendors, including the likes of Motorola, NEC, and Fujitsu, are increasing their go-to-market efforts, further amplifying competitive pressures.
* Iconic smartphone devices, coupled with growing mobile broadband laptop use, will continue to drive the explosion in mobile data traffic.
The IDC special study, Worldwide Cellular Infrastructure 2010-2014 Forecast: LTE Arrives, (IDC #222584), presents the five-year forecast for cellular infrastructure spending by mobile network operators worldwide. In addition to updating the traditional 2G and 3G segments, the forecast document introduces LTE into the spending categories. This is part of IDC's continuing research with respect to mobile and wireless network infrastructure. Findings are based on information gathered from both primary and secondary sources. The study incorporates the impact of the global economic recovery and LTE on investments in cellular infrastructure.