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Broadband Service Provider Capex Outlook

Infonetics Research has released the fourth quarter (4Q08) edition of its Service Provider Routers and Switches report. A key indicator of recent capital expense investment decisions, and the associated market outlook.

At the tail end of a great 2008, we saw the effects of carrier cautiousness in the service provider router and switch market, as IP edge and core routers, carrier Ethernet switches, and multiservice ATM switches were all down sequentially in the fourth quarter, normally a strong quarter for this market.

The good news is that IP edge and core routers are up year-over-year and as compared to the fourth quarter of 2007, indicating the general trend is also up. Still, the down fourth quarter is a bellwether, and Infonetics expects a slight dip in the overall market in 2009 before resuming growth in 2010.

Other highlights from the Infonetics study include:

- The worldwide service provider router and switch market grew 15 percent in 2008 over 2007 to $12.8 billion, but declined 6 percent in 4Q08 over 3Q08.

- 2008 was a great year for routers, with IP edge and IP core routers up a combined 26 percent in 2008.

- Carrier Ethernet switches dipped 4 percent in 2008, as many Ethernet-configured and -priced edge routers were purchased for Ethernet access transport applications rather than CES products.

- Multiservice ATM switches continued their expected decline in 2008, dropping below $1 billion for the first time in many years, with their only staying power provided by mobile backhaul networks.

- Sales of service provider routers and switches varied widely region to region in 4Q08, with strong sales in Central and Latin America, led by Cisco, helping to offset declines in Asia-Pacific, EMEA, and North America.

- For the year, Cisco maintains its strong leadership in the combined IP edge router and IP core router segments, although Juniper, Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei, Ericsson-Redback and Tellabs all gained revenue market share in 2008.

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