There is no doubt that 2009 was a bad financial year, and there were fears at its beginning that the wireless infrastructure market would see a severe downturn. Estimates for contraction ranged as high as 10-12 percent. However, an ABI Research finds that the final picture is a good deal brighter than that.
"There was a contraction in the wireless infrastructure market to be sure," says practice director Aditya Kaul. "But our analysis shows overall CAPEX down only about 5% compared to 2008. Even net base station spending was down only 5 percent."
The report, which presents a high-level overview of the global wireless infrastructure market, shows that operators resumed spending in the second half of 2009. North America's market saw continued spending by the likes of Verizon with its LTE network and Clearwire with its WiMAX deployments.
According to Kaul, "The biggest positive impact was from China with 243,000 new wireless base stations added in 2009, which really kept the momentum going. In what turned out to be a case of good timing, 3G spectrum became available at the beginning of the year, which led to deployments continuing through the year." In India, 3G spectrum issues slowed down the market to some extent in 2009.
Africa saw continued momentum in base station spending, with Huawei providing vendor financing to operators in the region. With the mobile capacity crunch starting to affect operators, 2009 was also a year in which backhaul and core network upgrades became high-priority areas, the study said.