European Union sovereign-debt crisis having minimal impact on telecoms

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Market research firm Infonetics Research today released excerpts from its third quarter 2011 (3Q11) 2G/3G/4G (LTE and WiMAX) Infrastructure and Subscribers report, which takes a comprehensive look at the mobile and wireless equipment markets, including vendor market share, forecasts, and LTE and WIMAX deployments.

ANALYST NOTES

“What many people seem to be overlooking in the midst of the European Union sovereign-debt crisis is that the EU’s ‘Big 5’ telecom operators — Deutsche Telekom, France Télécom, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Vodafone — are cash rich, each with more than €10 billion in cash!” points out Stéphane Téral, principal analyst for mobile infrastructure at Infonetics Research. “Yes, there are definitely challenges, and many telecom carriers, particularly in Europe and the Middle East, are going to have a tough time generating new revenue, but the fact remains that the telecom world is not falling apart. The fundamentals of the market are intact; service providers must continue upgrading their networks to manage relentlessly growing traffic. As a result, we maintain our view that this crisis continues to have minimal impact on telecoms overall.”

Téral adds: “So, despite a sequentially down third quarter for the overall 2G, 3G, and 4G mobile infrastructure market, which any vendor will tell you was due to seasonality (the third quarter has been down in 4 of the last 5 years), the market is up nearly 9% from the year-ago quarter. Lighting the way is the LTE equipment segment, up 330% from a year ago. Now that Verizon’s LTE spending has passed its peak, the ‘LTE 2nd wave’ has begun, led by AT&T and other operators around the world, along with the earlier-than-expected ramp up from Sprint. Combined, these activities are helping LTE take off even faster, prompting us to increase our LTE forecast.”

Richard Webb, directing analyst for microwave and small cells at Infonetics Research and co-author of the report, adds: “Meanwhile, the long-term future of WiMAX will depend on diversification into new addressable markets. Opportunities have expanded into the emerging smart grid segment, for instance, which is proving fruitful for WiMAX vendors — the WiMAX Forum has recently initiated its Smart Grid Working Group, and we are seeing more contracts from utility providers — as well as finding a niche as a WiFi backhaul solution.”

2G, 3G, 4G MOBILE INFRASTRUCTURE MARKET HIGHLIGHTS

In 3Q11, the overall 2G, 3G, and 4G infrastructure market, including LTE and WiMAX equipment, totaled $10.8 billion worldwide, up 8.6% from 3Q10, and down 4% sequentially due to seasonality

Global LTE equipment revenue jumped 38% sequentially in 3Q11 over 2Q11, and is now more than twice the size of the WiMAX equipment market

In 3Q11, the 4G market (LTE and WiMAX combined) passed the $1-billion-per-quarter bar

Alcatel-Lucent held on to its hotly contested number-one position in the LTE market in 3Q11, less than one market share point ahead of Ericsson

Huawei beat Samsung for first place in WiMAX revenue market share in 3Q11