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Confused Analysts Can't Forecast 3G Mobile

Many factors impact base station demand, and the largest is the uptake and usage of 3G technology in mobile service provider networks, according to the latest study by In-Stat.

Should uptake of 3G services be light over the next several years, the only new base stations required would be those to support more subscribers and for replacement of old or broken base stations, the high-tech market research firm says.

But, should 3G demand miraculously become heavy, the number of base stations required to quench this wireless demand could be large, with operators paying dearly for new base stations.

However, given the lack of consumer demand for 3G services, it's the equipment vendors who continue to benefit. Meaning, analysts are apparently puzzled.

"Our forecast for 3G data use falls somewhere between very little use and heavy use," says Allen Nogee, In-Stat analyst. "While there are many convincing arguments for heavy wireless data use, competing technologies, such as WiMAX and wired Internet access, will reduce 3G data demand, and the cost of 3G services will be prohibitive in many regions."

In-Stat's market study found the following:

- More than 4.7 million cellular base stations will be in operation by 2011.

- Cellular demand in China and India will keep sales of GSM base stations strong for many years.

- Licenses for TD-SCDMA will be given out in 2008, but shipments of TD-SCDMA base stations will pale in comparison to WCDMA base station shipments.

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