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U.S. wireless companies may invest between $$25 billion and $53 billion in 4G networks between 2012 and 2016, according to a study by Deloitte.

The consulting firm analyzed the potential economic effects of continued investment in 4G network technology, and concluded it could lead to the creation of 371,000 to 771,000 jobs and an increase in gross domestic product of $73 billion to $151 billion.

Deloitte said the low $25 billion investment figure assumes a baseline scenario in which U.S. 4G deployment proceeds at a moderate pace and the transition from 3G to 4G networks extends to the middle of the decade. U.S. companies would then be vulnerable to losing out to foreign competitors.

The high $53 billion figure assumes a scenario in which U.S. carriers invest more rapidly in 4G networks, before foreign competitors gain market traction. Deloitte figures that would lead to a “virtuous cycle” of growth and investment.

Additionally, 4G adoption will help minority groups, rural communities and localities with limited access to full broadband connectivity, as well as some small businesses.

Verizon Wireless now covers more 160 million people, half of the U.S. population, and is expected to cover its entire 3G footprint with LTE by the end of 2013. AT&T plans to launch its LTE network later this summer in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio and deploy LTE across 70 million POPs in 15 markets by year-end, and says it expects to complete its LTE deployment by the end of 2013. Sprint Nextel resells Clearwire’s mobile WiMAX service to 130 million people in 71 markets.

Dell’Oro Group says the mobile infrastructure market experienced its highest year-over-year growth since 2004, as revenues increased 25% during the second quarter of 2011 versus the year-ago quarter. This increase was driven in large part by sales of WCDMA/HSPA and CDMA/EV-DO equipment which comprised nearly 70% of the market’s gain. The report also says that in 2Q11, Ericsson, Huawei, and Nokia Siemens Networks held the three largest market shares.

A report published by Juniper Research stated that revenues billed by operators will be more than $1 trillion annually by 2016, but that costs will exceed revenues within four years unless operators take action.

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