Report: Global wireless capex flatlines in 2015, but with 5G planning in sight

According to a new report by ABI Research, global wireless capital expenditures will remain flat in 2015, but with 5G capital planning well in sight.

Vubiq Networks enhances 60-GHz Gigabit Ethernet wireless connectivity system
Vubiq Networks enhances 60-GHz Gigabit Ethernet wireless connectivity system

ABI Research believes that global wireless capital expenditure (capex) will remain flat in 2015 at US$194 billion, due to strong U.S. dollar impact on the purchase power of mobile operators, and the regional unrest in Middle East and North African regions.

As compared to 2014, ABI Research forecasts a slight decline of 0.6% in global wireless capex. North American operators such as AT&T and Verizon are expecting the percentage of capex revenue to decline in 2015.

“As LTE reaches universal coverage in North America, operators focus on network densification and user experience optimization. The FCC’s Net Neutrality and Title II classifications also negatively impact the investment sentiment of network operators,” explains Lian Jye Su, research analyst, ABI Research.

On the other hand, the analyst notes that operators from Europe, Middle East and Africa are committed to their network upgrades and will drive future growth as they target the global enterprise market.

ABI notes that wireless networks are increasingly heterogeneous and layered -- i.e. virtualized, software-defined, cloud-based, and self-organizing. As multiple operators, such as Vodafone, Singtel, MegaFon, and Softbank, are currently testing 5G mobile technology, the analyst forecasts 5G deployments to start around 2020, with capital expenditures anticipating 5G starts a few years ahead.

ABI Research believes that this spending will be less on macro base stations and more on small cells and small cell clusters. Just as the deployment of LTE has demonstrated a lesser degree of complexity as compared to the deployment of 3G, the deployment of 5G will involve less major hardware swap-outs but rather will be more modular and software centric, speculates the new report. Likewise, the capex in the percentage of revenue shall remain stable or even decline, adds the analyst.

ABI Research’s latest market data study, "Mobile Operator CAPEX," focuses on the regional and global mobile operator capital expenditure, which includes base station, and core network spending. It is part of ABI Research’s Network Market Tracker Market Research. Learn more.

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