Infonetics: China boosted 2011 mobile backhaul equipment market

Sales of mobile backhaul equipment grew 8% to $7.4 billion in 2011, following a 10% increase the previous year, according to a new report from Infonetics Research. The market research firm’s latest Mobile Backhaul Equipment and Services report reveals that strong sales in China provided the greatest catalyst.

Sales of mobile backhaul equipment grew 8% to $7.4 billion in 2011, following a 10% increase the previous year, according to a new report from Infonetics Research. The market research firm’s latest Mobile Backhaul Equipment and Services report reveals that strong sales in China provided the greatest catalyst.

The Mobile Backhaul Equipment and Services market share and forecast report ranks mobile backhaul equipment vendors, identifies market growth areas, and provides analysis of mobile backhaul equipment, connections, cell sites, and service charges. The latest report suggests that a cumulative $39 billion will be spent on mobile backhaul equipment over the 5 years from 2012 to 2016.

But the market won’t see the same tail wind from China that it did in 2011, according to the report.

“The nice bump up in the mobile backhaul market in 2011 was due in large part to a surge in Ethernet mobile backhaul router purchases in China,” explains Michael Howard, principal analyst and co-founder of Infonetics Research. “We expect the China surge to subside in 2012, impacting the overall market; then slow, steady growth in this already-large market should resume in 2013.”

IP/Ethernet equipment comprises more than 90% of all mobile backhaul equipment spending, driven by operators looking to lower mobile data traffic costs, accommodate the 3G mobile broadband data transition, and move to IP as the basic technology of LTE (and WiMAX), Infonetics says. About 150 mobile operators are actively deploying IP/Ethernet backhaul, up from 100 in 2010 and 25 in 2009. Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Huawei, Tellabs, and ZTE lead the Ethernet mobile backhaul routers and gateways segment.

Meanwhile, fiber has a way to go to take the lead position in mobile backhaul networks. “Roughly 55% of the world’s mobile backhaul physical connections are on microwave, and more than half of all mobile backhaul equipment revenue in 2011 came from dual TDM/Ethernet microwave and packet-only microwave equipment combined,” said Richard Webb, directing analyst for microwave at Infonetics.

Ericsson maintained its lead in the mobile backhaul microwave radio market with 22% of global revenue in 2011; meanwhile, Huawei took the lead in quarterly revenue for the first time in 4Q11.

Infonetics’ biannual mobile backhaul report provides worldwide and regional market size, vendor market share, forecasts through 2016, and analysis for mobile backhaul equipment (copper, fiber, air); connections; installed cell sites (2G, 3G, LTE, WiMAX, mixed); and service charges. The report also tracks vendor and operator mobile backhaul activity and mobile operator backhaul strategies.

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