Currently, the Latin American region is characterized by the coexistence of 2G, 3G and 4G wireless standards. The lack of standardization has restrained vendors in terms of product development and customer base expansion. However, the future looks bright as regulatory bodies begin playing an important role in aligning with international standards.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (www.testandmeasurement.frost.com), Latin America Wireless Test & Equipment Markets, estimates the markets to expand from $158.5 M in 2010 to $342 M in 2017, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.6 percent during the forecast period.
“A key factor driving demand for wireless test equipment is the continuous development of wireless communication standards from 2 and 2.5G to 3G, 3.5G, HSPA and 4G,” notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Mariano Kimbara. “There are several 4G trials and deployments slated to begin by the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012 which are expected to generate growth for this market.”
The evolution from 2G to 3G wireless standards has contributed significantly to the uptake of wireless test and equipment in the Latin American region. Operators in Latin America are in the initial phase of 3G HSPA deployments and very few are introducing HSPA +. The new HSPA technologies allow increased data transmission in the region without the need for massive investment.
Imminent LTE deployments also augur well for market prospects.
“The major reason for deploying LTE in the region is the promise of reduced operating costs and savings in terms of frequency spectrums over the long term,” explains Kimbara. “As a result, operators are favoring the implementation of LTE, instead of blindly following the parameters of developed markets such as those in North America and Europe.”
A key challenge is the lack of emphasis on quality, which has had a ripple effect on investment levels. Latin American operators are cost conscious, exhibiting an “essentials only” attitude toward test equipment. Consequently, vendors are experiencing difficulties in penetrating the market with high end sophisticated testing tools.
“Regulatory bodies have not been very proactive in auditing network quality,” elaborates Kimbara. “They have shirked from applying penalties in cases where operators have failed to meet the contractually agreed performance in terms of efficiency and quality.”
However, things are changing. The explosion of wireless data usage brought about by smartphones has put immense strain on networks in the Latin American region in terms of quality. Regulatory bodies are starting to push for higher quality standards in some countries.
“The rising number of smartphones and tablets sales, combined with high mobile penetration rates, has intensified the need to deploy HSPA+ in large cities,” concludes Kimbara. “This will highlight the need for more robust and reliable wireless test and equipment.”