Survey: LTE to turn around operators' sagging fortunes

LTE promises bright days ahead for mobile operators thanks to higher ARPUs and significant spectrum efficiencies that will help improve their bottom lines, according to fresh data from Infonetics Research.

Infonetics' 2012 survey of service providers regarding their LTE deployment strategies revealed that LTE is expected to help operators shake the global economic gloom. "For the first time since we began tracking LTE in 2008, increased average revenue per user (ARPU) is among the top LTE upgrade drivers, along with spectral efficiencies that are driving down the cost per gigabyte. As a result, operators' bottom line should improve for a change," said Stephane Teral, Infonetics' principal analyst for mobile infrastructure and carrier economics.

infontetics

Chart courtesy of Infonetics Research, 2012

Despite the gains anticipated from LTE, Infonetics' carrier survey nonetheless revealed that one-third of operators intend to use their 2G and 3G networks for voice services as long as possible.

Further, although single radio voice call continuity (SRVCC) is on track to become commercially available this fall, 84 percent of operators surveyed by Infonetics do not actually expect the feature to be ready this year. A study released by Dell'Oro Group in May predicted handsets with SRVCC capabilities would start to ship during the second half of 2012.

SRVCC, a capability open to GSM as well as CDMA operators, hands over a call from the LTE network to a legacy circuit-switched 2G or 3G network. Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) has said it will not use SRVCC because it expects to cover its entire service footprint with LTE by mid-2013, meaning it will not need a circuit-switched backup. However, smaller CDMA operators will likely be interested in SRVCC, Ed Elkin, marketing director for Alcatel-Lucent's (NASDAQ: ALU) advanced communication solutions, told FierceBroadbandWireless.

Infonetics' operator survey also showed that TD-LTE continues to gain momentum, spearheaded by China Mobile's participation in the LTE standards process. Europe, the Middle East and Africa lead in the number of LTE deployments worldwide, but 80 percent of the more than 10 million global LTE subscribers are in North America.

For more:
- see this Infonetics release

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