HD video will drive LTE, as celcos spend US$5bn by 2014

With four operators ramping up their LTE launch plans for this year, orders for LTE equipment is expected to approach US$250 million during 2010. As the majority of major celcos follow this lead, the value of equipment ordered will climb steeply to US$5 billion by 2014, claims market watchers at Dell 'Oro Group, a US-based research firm.

Key to this level of equipment sales will be HD video, according to Scott Siegler, analyst for mobility infrastructure research at Dell 'Oro. "There will be more M2M devices and maybe even LTE embedded in set-top boxes, but we won't know for sure what 4G devices will come until the networks are up with the data rates supported," he said.

However, Siegler believes that contracts for wireless infrastructure gear is expected to stay flat at US$38 billion in 2010 with declines in GSM and CDMA system sales offsetting growth in 3G and LTE. Operators purchased nearly US$5 billion in 3G equipment in the last quarter of 2009 alone, surpassing sales of GSM equipment for the first time. Dell 'Oro forecasts that growth would continue with 3G technology representing as much as three-quarters of all network infrastructure spending in 2014.

The suggestion that mobile video would be a driver for 3G uptake has been around from the very first presentations outlining 3G capabilities - but still remains unappealing to operators and consumers. But the Australian carrier Telstra announced last week that it would be conducting LTE trials including HD video, and there are continuing rumours that an LTE iPhone could support the technology. However, this device is thought to be at least 12/18 months away and much could and will change during this period.

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