US Mobile Operator CAPEX Will Grow 2.1% in 2013 in Mixed Global Market

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Worldwide mobile operator capital infrastructure expenditure in 2013 will experience opposing forces from different regional markets.

"In North America, mobile carrier CapEx will grow 2.1% to US$ 13.4 billion as the accelerated LTE equipment spend programs from AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, etc. concentrate spending in 2013," said Jake Saunders, VP and practice director of core forecasting at ABI Research. "On the other hand, in Western Europe, capital expenditure will contract -1.1%, as maturing networks, and economic uncertainty, trim CapEx".

Asia-Pacific has its LTE hotspots. Korea and Japan are rapidly acquiring LTE subscribers; China has yet to award LTE licenses, while SE Asia countries are starting to demonstrate some traction in LTE. India had awarded some LTE-TDD licenses in early 2012 but a lack of affordable LTE-TDD capable handsets, and high tariffs, has kept Indian LTE-TDD subscriber adoptions in check.

"Eastern Europe should show reasonable growth (2.4%) in CapEx that reflects LTE coverage build-out by carriers, but also 3G capacity build-outs as 3G subscriber adoption has gone past 41% penetration for the region," commented Aditya Kaul, mobile infrastructure practice director. Middle East, Africa, and Latin America will show some growth in capital expenditure of around 1% to 3%. Voice-centric coverage is largely complete in those regions. Some operators are addressing 3G in-fill and mobile data capacity challenges but there has not been the 'data crunch' as we have seen in Developed Markets.

As a result of these countervailing fiscal commitments, worldwide capital expenditure is expected to contract by -7% to US$ 98.6 billion in 2013. However, the commitments to LTE from an ever-expanding list of countries should substantially boost overall mobile carrier CapEx, by 6%, to US$ 104.5 billion in 2014.

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