Feature Article

Free eNews Subscription>>
June 05, 2015

The Peak for LTE Fast Approaching as Operators Near Completion of Major Rollouts

In 2004 NTT DoCoMo of Japan proposed LTE as the international standard, and at the 2008 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Ericsson showed the world the first end-to-end mobile call enabled by LTE. Since that time the technology has seen rapid global deployments, and according to the GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association), 360 operators have commercially launched LTE networks and service in 124 countries by January of 2015. With such rapid adoption, it was inevitable for the peak to arrive. The new IHS Infonetics Mobile Infrastructure Equipment report reveals it is indeed that time, and 2015 will be the year in which global LTE mobile infrastructure revenue will peak at $23.3 billion.

As with any industry that achieves its peak, it is soon followed by a decline. And in the case of LTE, it will be the result of diminishing rollouts. According to the forecast, by 2019 it will be less than $15 billion; this includes FDD, TDD and Evolved Packet Core (EPC).

The report from GSA breaks down the 360 rollouts as follows: 312 operators deployed FDD mode only, 31 operators deployed TDD mode only and 17 operators deployed both FDD and TDD modes. The spectrum with the widest deployment for LTE networks is still 1800 MHz (3GPP band 3), with 158 commercial launches in 76 countries. The 1800 MHz spectrum is used in almost 44 percent of LTE network deployments, holding the largest user devices ecosystem. This is followed by the 2.6 GHz (band 7) with 25 percent.

“As we anticipated, we’re reaching the peak of LTE rollouts, and LTE is now set to perform at $6 billion a quarter for some time as operators complete their major remaining rollouts,” said Stéphane Téral, research director for mobile infrastructure and carrier economics at IHS.

The key points of the IHS Infonetics Mobile Infrastructure Equipment report include:

  • LTE revenue totaled $6 billion worldwide in the first quarter of 2015 (1Q15), a 1 percent sequential decline,
  • LTE rollouts were not strong enough in 1Q15 to fully offset the abyssal year-over-year decline of 2G/3G spending, resulting in an 8 percent sequential decline for the global 2G/3G/4G mobile infrastructure market, which came to $11 billion, and
  • On a year-over-year basis, the 2G/3G/4G mobile infrastructure market was up 4 percent in 1Q15, driven by unabated TDD LTE activity in China.

The result of the quarterly report was based on tracking 50 categories of equipment, software and subscribers of wireless network technology, including radio access networks (RANs), base transceiver stations (BTSs), mobile softswitching, packet core equipment and E-UTRAN macrocells. The report also analyzed key vendors in the sector, including Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Datang Mobile, Ericsson, Fujitsu, Genband, HP, Huawei, NEC, Nokia Networks, Samsung, ZTE, and others.

Now that LTE has gained global adoption, it is only a matter of time before more customers start choosing this network for their mobile solutions. According to Ovum, the LTE subscription numbers around the world was estimated at 373 million by the third quarter of 2014, which was a 131 percent year-over-year growth. This number is sure to rise as more affordable smartphones continue to enter the market place, especially in developing countries where high-end devices are having a hard time. 

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

FOLLOW MobilityTechzone

Subscribe to MobilityTechzone eNews

MobilityTechzone eNews delivers the latest news impacting technology in the Wireless industry each week. Sign up to receive FREE breaking news today!
FREE eNewsletter