LTE, WCDMA Infrastructure Revenue to Hit $42 Billion by 2015

With Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile pushing 4G, and WCDMA still doing heavy lifting, mobile infrastructure revenues are expected to reach $42 billion in 2015.

Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile are all currently boasting that they offer 4G speeds in various areas. Perhaps not so surprisingly, then, the mobile infrastructure market-which suffered double-digit declines in 2009 and single-digit declines in 2010-is expected to grow from $34 billion in 2010 to $42 billion in 2015, according to a Feb. 14 report from the Dell'Oro Group.

While 30 new 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) networks are expected to launch worldwide this year, even spending on WCDMA (wideband Code Division Multiple Access) networks is said to be on the rise. WCDMA, the 3G technology affiliated with GSM networks such as AT&T Wireless' and T-Mobile's in the United States, brought in revenues of $16 billion in 2010. According to the report, that figure is likely to climb to nearly $30 billion in 2015.

"The growing use of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets will continue to challenge operators and vendors for years to come," Stefan Pongratz, a Dell'Oro Group financial analyst, said in a statement. "We believe this increase in data demand will require operators to continue investing in their 3G/3.5G networks throughout the entire forecast period."

Back in December, the firm similarly announced that the WCDMA market had posted sequential revenue growth of 3 percent during the third quarter of 2010, and was expected to continue upward during the fourth quarter and into 2011, driven by market leaders Ericsson, Nokia Siemens and Huawei. While North America drove much of the 3G growth during 2010's second quarter, Pongratz said in that report, the Asia Pacific, particularly India, is expected to drive strong 3G growth into 2011.

In the firm's newest report, Pongratz also anticipates revenue growth for LTE. Currently, all four of the major U.S. networks offer 4G networks in various flavors. Sprint has been offering WiMAX technology since 2008, T-Mobile launched a campaign showing off its HSPA+ (Evolved High-Speed Packet Access) technology in November 2010, and in December 2010, Verizon's LTE network went live in 38 cities. AT&T, which this month began advertising its 4G capabilities based on HSPA+ technology, will also begin rolling out LTE by mid-year.

According to a Feb. 8 report from IHS iSuppli, LTE will have nearly 50 million users by 2012, and more than 303 million by 2014. (By contrast, WiMAX is expected to grow at the slower rate of 22 million users by 2012 and 33.4 million by 2014.)

"While we have seen several successful LTE launches, and we expect LTE revenue to see strong growth. We believe WCDMA networks will carry the majority of the traffic throughout the forecast horizon," said Pongratz.

The report even had good news for 2G technologies.

"In addition," said Pongratz, "we anticipate some recurring 2G investments in fast-growing markets such as China and India to deal with the large 2G installed base."