The year 2003 has been a trying year for cellular service providers deploying infrastructures, especially for those that have invested large amounts for 3G licenses and equipment, reports In-Stat/MDR. Without the drive for high speed data demand, the trend in units and overall base station revenue is down. Last year, total cellular base station revenue was over $31 B, and with continuing price pressures, spectrum efficiency increases and slowing subscriber growth rates, the high tech market research firm forecasts this same revenue to be almost half that in 2007.

“Unfortunately, cellular providers have assumed that mobile data would emerge from fixed-line data in the same way that mobile voice services emerged from fixed-line voice,” says Allen Nogee, a principal analyst with In-Stat/MDR. “While voice and mobility naturally fit together, data and mobility do not.” However, In-Stat/MDR finds that the number of cellular subscribers continues to grow, and infrastructure is getting better and cheaper. Still, for 3G to be successful, even as voice technology, handsets must be reliable and cost-effective. While CDMA2000 1X handsets have met this challenge, UMTS handsets have fallen short here by a wide margin. It will take several years for UMTS handsets prices to drop to a reasonable point, and for other UMTS handset issues to be resolved. By 2006, UMTS should be a viable solution, whereby operators will deploy UMTS without any second thoughts.

In-Stat/MDR has also found that:

While cancellations of UMTS base stations have decreased the number of UMTS base stations that will be shipped this year, a large number of UMTS base stations will still be shipped and installed. In-Stat/MDR believes that when the smoke clears, more than 40,000 UMTS base stations will have been shipped this year. From 2002 to 2007, the total number of new base stations sold every year is forecast to decrease from about 230,000 in 2003 to 163,000 in 2007, a CAGR of –7 percent.

Total new worldwide base station revenue is forecast to decrease at a greater rate than the units themselves. From 2002 to 2007, total new base station revenue is forecast to decrease at a CAGR of –12.8 percent. For some types, such as GSM, this decline will even be much greater.

The report, “The Ups, the Downs, the Reality: 5-year Cellular Base Station Deployment Forecast” (#IN030915 GW), contains a breakdown of cellular base stations, both deployed and shipped each year, broken-out by regions and air-interface. Air-interfaces covered in this report include CDMA, GSM, TDMA, PDC, PHS and W-CDMA. Numbers for 2002 are included, as well as a forecast out to 2007. In addition, this report also contains base station revenues, also broken-out by region and air-interface. For more information, visit