Report: Japanese carriers closer to shuttering 3G

Japan's total mobile infrastructure market skyrocketed 78 percent during 2012, thanks largely to a dedicated push by NTT DoCoMo, KDDI and Softbank to rollout LTE nationwide, according to a report from Infonetics.

Although 100 percent of Japan's mobile subscribers are on 3G networks, the nation's operators are eyeing closure of those networks in favor of LTE.  

"As we predicted, 2012 was the LTE year in Japan following a year marked by 3G reconstruction efforts after the great earthquake and tsunami. LTE revenue in Japan soared 188 percent and will keep its momentum this year, driven by accelerated rollouts and the increasing willingness of service providers to shut down 3G," wrote Stephane Teral, Infonetics' principal analyst for mobile infrastructure and carrier economics.

The firm said Japan's mobile infrastructure market will plateau in 2014 and eventually decline by 2017 as LTE deployments wind down. That slowdown could impact Nokia Siemens Networks, which the Infoentics ranks as the top vendor in LTE infrastructure revenue market share in Japan, followed by NEC and Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC).

Meanwhile, China--which has not yet officially allowed commercial LTE deployments--is in quite a different situation. Its mobile infrastructure market is expected to heat up as the Chinese government gears up to award LTE licenses, and China Mobile prepares for a massive TD-LTE rollout with potential commercial service by year's end, said Teral.

In a separate report, Infonetics named China Mobile the top independent wireless provider by revenue, with sales of almost $89 billion in 2012.

The entire Chinese market for mobile infrastructure, including 2G, 3G and LTE, slid 4 percent year-over-year in 2012.

China Mobile's rollout of 20,000 TD-LTE eNodeBs during the fourth quarter of 2012 helped keep China's mobile infrastructure market afloat during 2012. The entire Chinese market for mobile infrastructure, including 2G, 3G and LTE, slid 4 percent year-over-year in 2012, dragged down by slower sales of equipment for GSM, WCDMA and CDMA2000.

China Mobile last month disclosed that it will commit $6.7 billion to rolling out TD-LTE this year. The operator expects to end 2013 with more than 200,000 TD-LTE base stations in 13 cities, up from the 20,000 base stations it had deployed by the end of last year.

Infonetics forecasts LTE in China, which has 1.1 billion mobile subscribers, to grow at a 38 percent CAGR from 2012 to 2017.

For more:
- see this Infonetics release

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