Over five years ago, Asia-Pacific mobile operators were lagging behind their North American and European counterparts in 4G LTE (News - Alert) (News - Alert) service development. Fast forward to the present day, and the landscape is all very different.
According to a recent study by market research firm ABI Research (News - Alert) (News - Alert), 10 operators out of 110 networks (9 percent) have commercial 4G LTE networks up and running. Another 58 (53 percent) either have specific plans to roll out LTE or are conducting trials.
“We estimate total Asia-Pacific mobile capital expenditure to reach US$53.3 billion by the end of 2012,” said Jake Saunders, ABI Research’s vice president of forecasting. “62 percent is still very much earmarked for radio access network (RAN) deployment. Other key investment areas include EPC and gateway upgrades to the core network at 9 percent, as well as improving in-building wireless coverage into dense urban centers at 5.7 percent.”
The market watcher’s study shows that in China, 4G licenses have yet to be issued, but that has not stopped China Mobile (News - Alert) (News - Alert) from making plans. According to ABI Research, in 2Q-2012, China Mobile announced it had completed a six-city TD-LTE trial. The 655-million subscriber operator plans to ramp up its TD-LTE base station count to over 20,000 TD-LTE base stations by December and 200,000 by 2013.
Meanwhile, China Unicom (News - Alert) is focusing on accelerating its 3G network build-out, optimizing 2G network coverage and expediting indoor coverage. China Telecom (News - Alert) is focused on implementing telecom cloud and value-added services projects.
ABI Research’s study indicates heavy RAN investment is taking place in India. A number of operators are jockeying for position in a very competitive marketplace. On April 10, Bharti Airtel (News - Alert) (News - Alert) became the first operator to launch 4G LTE services in Kolkata, India, with plans to launch 4G services in Bangalore before June. Besides 4G, Indian operators continue to spend on 2G equipments. The Indian operator, Idea, for instance, has continued to roll out 2,270 2G cell sites and 1,176 3G cell sites in the past year.
The source indicated that Southeast Asia shows strong commitment to 4G, with commercial networks up and running in Malaysia (likely WIMAX over LTE), Singapore and the Philippines.
Edited by Braden Becker