Research: AT&T to drive global telecom carrier capex in 2011

Market research firm Infonetics Research expects a 6-percent increase in global telecom carrier capex in 2011 over 2010 thanks to AT&T's (NYSE:T) spending on LTE deployments, HSPA+ upgrades and investments in Wi-Fi hotspots to offload data traffic. The firm says AT&T's spending offsets Verizon Wireless' (NYSE:VZ) slowing mobile spending since its LTE rollout peaked earlier this year.

AT&T announced last week that it will launch LTE-Advanced network technology in 2013. Krish Prabhu, president and CEO of AT&T Labs, made the statement at the LTE North America conference in Dallas. The company is not elaborating on the nature or timing of the LTE-Advanced deployment.

LTE-Advanced is considered a significant upgrade of LTE, which will allow operators to take advantage of advanced topology networks and also deliver improvements in capacity and coverage.

Prabhu's announcement today is the first time AT&T has provided a time frame for LTE-Advanced. Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) said in October it will deploy LTE-Advanced on its 800 MHz spectrum by the first half of 2013. Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) has said it can deploy LTE-Advanced technology in a TDD-LTE overlay on top of its mobile WiMAX network, if it can get an additional $600 million in financing. Verizon Wireless has not yet announced when it might deploy LTE-Advanced.

AT&T's LTE rollout is still in its early stages. Last Sunday the company launched LTE service in Athens, Ga., Baltimore, Boston and Washington, D.C. In September AT&T launched LTE service in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. The company has said it plans to have LTE deployed in 15 markets covering 70 million POPs by year-end.

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