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Mobile Broadband Drives Service Provider Investment

Infonetics Research released excerpts from its latest global market study of the telecom service provider sector, which analyzes capital expenditures (capex), operational expenses (opex), revenue per user, and subscriber trends by network operator, operator type, region, and telecom equipment segment.

Overall, the 6 percent increase in global telecom carrier capex in 2011 over 2010 is due in large part to the AT&T ramping 4G LTE wireless network deployments, HSPA+ upgrades, and investments in Wi-Fi hotspots for traffic offload.

The AT&T increase somewhat offsets the Verizon Wireless slowing of mobile infrastructure spending -- since their 4G LTE deployment peaked earlier this year.

In the EMEA region, a capex hike in Africa is partially offsetting delays in telecom investment in Greece, Italy, and Hungary. Asia Pacific remains stable, and in the Caribbean and Latin America (CALA), America Movil and Telefonica -- the two telecom giants that control 75 percent of mobile subscribers there -- are preparing their infrastructure to host the soccer World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016.

"We maintain our view that the sovereign debt crisis that is paralyzing Europe continues to have little impact on our telecom capex forecast. As long as credit remains available to telecoms at a fair price, the ongoing sovereign debt crisis should have little impact on telecommunications equipment spending," said Stephane Teral, principal analyst at Infonetics Research.

Broadband service provider investment plans across world regions suggest mobile broadband and fiber to the customer premise (FTTx) will become the primary focal point, going forward.

Highlights from the Infonetics global market study include:
  • In the 10 years from 2005 to 2015, telecom service provider revenue has shown and will continue to show year-over-year growth every year except in 2009.
  • Following a 4.1 percent increase in 2010 over 2009, telecom service provider revenue will grow 7.6 percent in 2011, to $1.86 trillion.
  • Telecom carrier revenue is forecast to grow to $2.17 trillion in 2015, driven by mobile broadband.
  • Global telecom carrier capex to total $310.8 billion in 2011, up 5.8 percent over 2010.
  • Service provider spending on every type of next-gen telecom equipment except TDM voice is up in 2011.
  • The fastest-growing investment areas among telecom carriers in 2011 are WiMAX equipment (+27.5%) and video infrastructure (+20.7%).
  • The largest investment areas remain non-telecom/datacom equipment (software, real estate, labor, etc.) and mobile infrastructure, global spending for which is growing 7 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively, in 2011 over 2010.
  • Asia Pacific will continue to be the largest telecom carrier capex region through 2015, driven by China Mobile, which ended 2010 as the world's largest mobile operator by revenue.
  • Wireless pure-play operators will grow to account for nearly one third of all telecom carrier capex by 2015.

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