4G Leads Mobile Infrastructure Turnaround

Carl Weinschenk

The painfully slow rebound from the recession finally is being felt in the wireless sector, with a two-year slump likely to end in 2011, at least according to iSuppli.


The firm said that worldwide wireless spending, driven by the WiMax and Long Term Evolution flavors of 4G, will generate $40.3 billion next year. The 2010 figure, $37.8 billion, is 2.3 percent less than last, the story says. That's a bit better than the comparison between 2009 and 2008, when expenditures were down 5.7 percent.


That's good news, even if it was expected. A quote in the press release by Dr. Jagdish Rebello suggests that the results are validation of what just about everyone thought was going on:

Starting in 2011, wireless carriers in industrialized countries will start to deploy 4G in order to attain faster speeds and to unclog the heavy data traffic generated by the exploding use of smart phones. This 4G-driven growth in capital spending will continue at least through 2014.

The picture is even brighter than it seems at first glance because the 2011 results are based to a great degree on increased spending on WiMax, which many, including iSuppli, consider a warmup to subsequent and more substantial spending on LTE. This two-phase surge suggests long-term and sustained capital investments.

The passage of 4G from present to future technology is clear in two deals, both of which show that 4G is becoming common.


The first deal focuses on Best Buy, which will offer Cleariwire's WiMax service as its 4G option. The other deal is from vendor Motorola, which will build a public-safety network in San Francisco using the 700 MHz spectrum. IntoMobile says this is the first such network based on LTE that will serve agencies in multiple locations. In addition to San Francisco, the network will be used by Alameda County/Oakland, Contra Costa County and the cities of Sunnyvale and Santa Clara. The story offers insight into how LTE will lead to a higher level of functionality compared to previous network technologies.


It is not hard to find stories about the rollouts of LTE and WiMax. The research from iSuppli suggests that the news reports are not anecdotal.

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