Mobile operators can cut capex by two-thirds if they upgrade to HSPA+ rather than deploy LTE, according to telecoms consultancy Aircom.
Analysis of the infrastructure required to meet growing demand for mobile broadband services reveals UK operators would need to invest $750 million (€611 million) in the first year to deploy an LTE network, but that HSPA+ would cost just $250 million over the same period.
US carriers could save $1.19 billion by using HSPA+, while savings for Gulf state and Asia Pacific carriers would be $225 million and $155 million respectively.
The most important factor in deciding a future network technology is return on investment (ROI), said Aircom’s Fabricio Martinez.
“Due to the low capex investment and new revenue opportunities, deployment of HSPA+ will allow operators to see ROI in three years,” Martinez said.
“[And that’s a…] perfect timing to upgrade to LTE, when that technology’s ecosystem has matured, devices have come to market, and equipment prices have reduced.”
Aircom pegs a tier-one US carrier’s first year LTE capex at $1.8 billion, due in part to operators’ high 700MHz auction licensing costs, compared with $750 million for the UK.
In recent times, a number of operators initially supporting LTE have since announced HSPA+ strategies as an interim measure, according to Martinez.
"We are seeing operators delay their LTE plans now, and we expect this trend to continue," Martinez told Reuters.