Macrocell Market Modestly Up in 2Q13 but DOWN 5% Year over Year; Telecom Council TC3 Tidbits

Infonetics Research released excerpts from its 2nd quarter 2013 (2Q13) 2G, 3G, 4G Mobile Infrastructure and Subscribers report, which tracks 2G, 3G, LTE, and WiMAX network equipment and subscribers.

.    The global macrocell 2G/3G/4G mobile infrastructure market totaled $10.3 billion in 2Q13, up 4% sequentially driven by LTE ramp-ups in North America, Brazil, and EMEA
.    Yet, modest 2G and 3G activity kept the mobile infrastructure market down 5% on a year-over-year basis (2Q12 to 2Q13)
.    Projects at Bouygues Telecom, Etisalat, Everything Everywhere, MTS, Mobily, Vodafone D2, Claro, and Vivo propelled Huawei past long-time #2 NSN to move behind king of the macro 2G/3G/4G radio Ericsson
.    Estimated at $3.3 billion in 2Q13, LTE revenue grew 17% quarter-over-quarter, and 119% year-over-year
.    Europe joined the LTE bandwagon in 2Q13, and is now the 3rd strongest LTE market behind North America and Brazil
.    LTE rollouts began in earnest at Russia’s MTS, MegaFon, and VimpelCom
.    Infonetics anticipates that 4G LTE subscribers could top 608 million by 2017



Infonetics’ quarterly 2G, 3G, 4G (LTE) report provides worldwide and regional market size, vendor market share, analysis, deployment trackers, forecasts through 2017 and trends for macrocell mobile network equipment and subscribers. The report tracks more than 50 subsegments of the market, including radio access networks (RAN), base transceiver stations (BTSs), mobile softswitching, packet core equipment and E-UTRAN macrocells. Vendors: Airspan, Alcatel-Lucent, Alvarion, Cisco, Datang Mobile, Ericsson, Fujitsu, Genband, HP, Huawei, NEC, NewNet, NSN, Proxim, Redline Communications, Samsung, UTStarcom, ZTE and others.

“LTE continues to ramp up at a fast pace with a shift away from Japan and Korea to EMEA, Brazil, and Russia. And China is joining in a big way with two-thirds of total spending this year earmarked for LTE and expected by year’s end. As a result, 2013 is shaping up to be a peak year for macrocell mobile deployments,” notes Stéphane Téral, principal analyst for mobile infrastructure and carrier economics at Infonetics Research.

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At the Telecom Council’s annual TC3 Summit this week, almost every cellular carrier talked about the importance of micro/nano cells to improve capacity to cope with exponentially increasing mobile data traffic.  None talked about macrocells or LTE Advanced (ITU-R compliant “4G” RAN technology that many thought would start getting deployed next year).

More interesting at TC3 was that BT announced it had acquired licensed spectrum and was looking for innovations from vendors in femtocells, Self Organizing Networks (SONs), and “open models.”  That strongly implies that BT is preparing to re-enter the mobile network provider market- either on its own or by sharing spectrum with O2 (owned by Telefonica).

This April, the Financial Times reported: “The UK telecoms group has begun a tender for an operator to provide BT mobile services to its customers, both in the consumer and business markets, as well as supplying its own staff. Auction experts said BT had been unexpectedly aggressive in bidding for spectrum, ending up with more than it needed for simply boosting its widespread WiFi networks.”

Software for mobile health was a theme that came up frequently at TC3 sessions with wireless telcos. Sprint expressed a strong interest in this area, and in the data that mobile health apps can generate. When asked about how it hopes to monetize this data Sprint said that strategy is still evolving.  Note that Sprint is a leader in M2M communications and that IEEE ComSocSCV has visited their M2M Collaboration Center in Burlingame, CA three times over the last few years.

China Mobile’s large TD-LTE deployment was described.  As the biggest mobile operator with 740 million subscribers, China Mobile is rolling out the largest LTE network with 200,000 base stations throughout 100 cities in China this year. China’s largest mobile carrier uses equipment from 9 wireless network infrastructure vendors, including Huawei, ZTE and 3 smaller Chinese companies.  They claim to be the world leader in TD-LTE deployments.

China Mobile is looking for innovations in various fields to address the above challenges: Cloud-RAN, ET and GaN power amplifier, low cost WDM transmission solution, mmWave Fronthaul, small cell, TDD/FDD integration, VoLTE, SON, massive MIMO etc.  More in follow up articles.