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APAC mobile capex to hit US$53.3B in 2012

More than 60 percent of mobile capital spending to go into radio access network deployment as carriers in Asia bump up their long-term evolution (LTE) investments, says report.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

Mobile capital expenditure in Asia-Pacific is expected to hit US$53.3 billion by the end of 2012 and carriers in the region have caught up with their North American and European counterparts in service development, reports ABI Research.

In a report Thursday, Jake Saunders, vice president of forecasting at ABI Research, said 62 percent of the mobile capital expenditure will be invested in radio access network (RAN) deployment while EPC and gateway upgrades to the core network will make up 9 percent of spending. Another key area which operators are looking at is improving in-building wireless coverage into dense urban centers at 5.7 percent of mobile capital spending, he added.

The research firm noted that mobile operators in the region had lagged behind western counterparts 10 years ago but now "the situation is very different". It noted that 62 percent of carriers in Asia were already investing in long-term evolution (LTE).

Out of 110 operators in Asia, 10 already have commercial LTE networks up and running while 58 operators have specific plans to roll out LTE service or are conducting trials, it added.

ABI Reseach highlighted several Asian markets where the spending will be pumped into. In China, the lack of 4G licenses has not stopped China Mobile from investing in 4G facilities.

The Chinese operator has completed TD-LTE (Time-Division Long-Term Evolution) in six cities and plans to increase its TD-LTE base stations to 20,000 by the end of the year and to 200,000 by 2013.

India has also seen heavy investment in RAN, it noted. Bharti Airtel was the first to launch 4G services in the country on Apr. 10 in Kolkata and it hopes to expand its 4G reach to Bangalore before June 2012.rival

The report noted that investment in telecom equipment in India also extends to 2G and 3G cell cites as operator Idea has continued to roll out 2,270 2G cell sites and 1,176 3G cell sites in 2011.

In Southeast Asia, commercial networks were already up and running in Malaysia where WiMax is preferred over LTE, Singapore and the Philippines, it said.

Last week, Singapore operator StarHub announced that it will be refarming its 2G spectrum for 4G services which will allow its users to enjoy better coverage and a better mobile Internet experience.

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