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 percent 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.
Base station expenditures in Q3 2012 in the Asia-Pacific region at $7.6 billion, or more than half of the total market, continued to be more than 4 times higher than in Western Europe or North America, and grew 50 percent compared to the year ago quarter, while North America spending grew 27 percent year-on-year in Q3 2012.
While the femtocell market struggled in the first half of 2012, the market has bounced back in the second half of the year. ABI Research’s latest femtocell forecast update suggests that 2012 ended up with shipments reaching slightly above 2 million units. The shipments in the second half more than doubled from the first half, making up for some of the lost momentum.
Apple’s iPhone 5 and Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones have provided LTE-enabled handset shipments a substantial lift in 2012 – even if it has not necessarily assisted the 4G mobile operators with “each and every” LTE handset sold.
ABI Research expects the ultra-low power wireless connectivity IC market to grow to over $2 billion annual revenues by 2016. This will be shared by a number of technologies with Bluetooth Smart and 802.15.4 being the two main markets.
Public venue small cells are an emerging class of small cell equipment, which are expected to grow at a CAGR of 67 percent to $3.1 billion in 2018. The public venue small cell category is a subset of the existing enterprise small cell segment, and will represent 50 percent of the segment by 2018.
In 2012 a major milestone has been reached for the Wi-Fi market: over 5 billion Wi-Fi enabled devices have been shipped in the technologies lifetime. Recent explosive growth has been largely driven by the smartphone and laptop markets but future success will be dependent on Wi-Fi penetration into newer markets such as connected home and automotive devices.
Although 2012 turned out to be an off year for RF power amplifiers and devices for wireless infrastructure the market still held its own. The current year should be viewed as a breathing space before both segments resume stable and moderate growth after an explosive 2011.