The global 2G, 3G, and 4G equipment market decreased 14 percent, closing in at a touch less than $10 billion in 1Q12. According to research firm Infonetics, this follows a 8-percent increase in 4Q11.

"The overall mobile infrastructure market took a beating in the first quarter of 2012," notes Stéphane Téral, principal analyst/Mobile Infrastructure and Carrier Economics. "We saw weak 2G and 3G activity across the board, exacerbated by China Mobile’s dramatic GSM pause on the heels of extraordinary shipment levels in the previous quarter. LTE and WIMAX equipment revenue also declined sequentially.”

He continues, “Nonetheless, LTE spending is up 128 percent from the year-ago first quarter, and the number of mobile operators committing to LTE continues to increase rapidly. Infonetics forecasts the LTE equipment market to grow to $17.5 billion in 2016."

More 2G, 3G and 4G infrastructure findings:

>> One bright spot of the first quarter is 3G mobile packet core network equipment (GGSNs, SGSNs, PDSNs), up 4 percent sequentially and up 5 percent from 1Q11, reflecting ongoing 3G expansion activity tied to 2G modernization.

>> 319 mobile operators have committed to LTE as of early May, up from 285 during the first quarter. More than 70 LTE operators have launched commercial services in 37 countries, according to the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA)?.

>> In 1Q12, Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent once again were neck and neck in the race for global LTE revenue leadership, followed by Huawei.

Infonetics expects a spike in TD-SCDMA equipment spending this year, due to China Mobile’s expanding TD-LTE trials aimed at helping it move quickly to 4G.

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