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Wireless & Mobile Landscape

U.S. Regional & Small Operator LTE Network Infrastructure CapEx & OpEx Forecast, 2012-2017


U.S. mobile operators are adding new LTE markets each week. The Tier One operators - AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and T-Mobile USA - have led the way with LTE deployments, but several Regional and Small Operators (RSOs) have also successfully deployed LTE in their smaller markets.

Due to two major acquisitions in 2013, the number of subscribers serviced by RSOs has dropped significantly. In addition, AT&T has announced plans to acquire Leap Wireless (Cricket). If this transaction is approved, it will lead to further consolidation.

When forecasting LTE CapEx, iGR considers that once the LTE subscriber base starts to grow, more devices will become available and usage of the network will increase. At this point the mobile operator will need to increase the network capacity. Operators are continually balancing their network CapEx between coverage and capacity. The engineers strive to provide sufficient coverage to be competitive and sufficient capacity to meet the needs of the growing subscriber base, while minimizing unnecessary CapEx.

Also, as the number of subscribers using LTE increases, so the corresponding network operating costs increase. While iGR expects the overall LTE network operating cost per subscriber to increase, the operating expense per cell site will decline due to increased efficiencies in the network.

This report provides an update on the LTE rollout of both Regional and Small Operators (RSOs) and Tier One Operators. It also forecasts the total LTE infrastructure CapEx investment and LTE OpEx for the RSOs. Finally, it provides profiles of dozens of companies that provide network products and services to RSOs.


Key Questions Answered

  • What is the current distribution of U.S. wireless subscribers between Tier One operators and RSOs?
  • What is the current status of the LTE deployments for Tier One operators and RSOs?
  • Which RSOs have deployed LTE through the Verizon Wireless LTE in Rural America program?
  • How will the amount of data traffic carried on LTE networks grow in the U.S. in the next five years?
  • What is the forecast for the number of LTE subscribers for RSOs in the U.S. in the next five years?
  • How much mobile data is each LTE subscriber expected to consume and how does this change in the next five years?
  • How much CapEx will the RSOs invest in LTE networks during the forecast period?
  • When do the CapEx cost curves begin to trend downward?
  • How big is the LTE infrastructure opportunity for U.S. RSOs in the next five years?
  • How big is the LTE OpEx for U.S. RSOs in the next five years?
  • Who are some of the vendors that provide products and services to RSOs?

Who Should Read

  • Mobile network operators, especially Regional and Small Operators
  • LTE network infrastructure vendors
  • Financial and investment analysts

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Executive Summary
  • Methodology
    • Model Assumptions
  • Distribution of U.S. Wireless Subscribers
  • Update on U.S. LTE deployments
    • Tier One Operators
    • Regional and Small Operators
  • U.S. LTE Cost Estimates
  • U.S. LTE Subscriber Estimates & Forecast
    • U.S. Cellular Subscriber Growth
    • U.S. LTE Subscriber Growth
    • U.S. LTE Mobile Data Traffic Forecast
    • U.S. LTE Infrastructure CapEx Forecast
    • U.S. LTE Network OpEx Forecast
  • RSO Vendor Profiles
    • Alcatel-Lucent
    • Amdocs
    • ANPI ZONE
    • Astellia
    • ClearSky Technologies
    • Cycle30
    • Cisco
    • Ericsson
    • Exalt Communications
    • General Dynamics Broadband
    • Globecomm Systems, Inc.
    • Huawei
    • Interop Technologies
    • JSC Ingenium
    • Juniper Networks
    • Lemko
    • Movius Interactive Corporation
    • NetAmerica Alliance
    • Nextgen Clearing
    • NSN (Nokia Solutions and Networks)
    • NTG Clarity Networks
    • Numerex
    • Openwave Mobility
    • OSG Billing Services
    • Pario Solutions
    • Samsung Electronics
    • Syniverse Technologies
    • Taqua
    • Tecore Networks
    • TeleCommunication Systems, Inc. (TCS)
    • Telispire
    • Transaction Network Services (TNS)
    • ZTE Corporation
  • Definitions
    • General
    • Device Types
    • Services
    • Network Technology
  • About iGR
    • Disclaimer

List of Tables

  • Table 1: Distribution of U.S. Wireless Subscribers, Q4 2012
  • Table 2: Participants in the VZW LTE in Rural America Program
  • Table 3: Forecasted U.S. Cellular Subscriber Growth, 2012-2017 (Millions)
  • Table 4: Assumed U.S. LTE Penetration of Subscriber Base by Operator Type, 2012-2017
  • Table 5: Average U.S. LTE Subscribers by Operator Type, 2012-2017 (Millions)
  • Table 6: Assumed U.S. LTE Network Usage, 2012-2017
  • Table 7: Assumed Total U.S. LTE Network Usage by Operator Type, 2012-2017 (GB)
  • Table 8: U.S. LTE Infrastructure CapEx by Operator Type, 2012-2017 ($M, depreciated CapEx)
  • Table 9: U.S. LTE Network OpEx by Operator Type, 2012-2017 ($M)

List of Charts

  • Figure A: U.S. LTE Infrastructure CapEx by Operator Type, 2012-2017 ($M, depreciated CapEx)
  • Figure B: U.S. LTE Network OpEx by Operator Type, 2012-2017 ($M)
  • Figure C: U.S. LTE Network CapEx and OpEx Spending for RSOs, 2012-2017 ($M)
  • Figure 1: Distribution of U.S. Wireless Subscribers, Q4 2012
  • Figure 2: Forecasted U.S. Cellular Subscriber Growth by Operator Type, 2012-2017 (Millions)
  • Figure 3: Assumed U.S. LTE Penetration of Subscriber Base by Operator Type, 2012-2017
  • Figure 4: Average U.S. LTE Subscribers by Operator Type, 2012-2017 (Millions)
  • Figure 5: Assumed Total U.S. LTE Network Usage by Operator Type, 2012-2017 (GB)
  • Figure 6: U.S. LTE Infrastructure CapEx by Operator Type, 2012-2017 ($M, depreciated CapEx)
  • Figure 7: U.S. Total LTE Infrastructure CapEx, 2012-2017 ($M, depreciated CapEx)
  • Figure 8: U.S. LTE Network OpEx by Operator Type, 2012-2017 ($M)
  • Figure 9: U.S. Total LTE Network OpEx, 2012-2017 ($M)
  • Figure 10: Cisco V2oLTE CSFB and SMS
  • Figure 11: Juniper Networks LTE Core Solution
  • Figure 12: Juniper Networks’ Separation of Service and Networking
  • Figure 13: Taqua NLOS Backhaul System
  • Figure 14: iCore
  • Figure 15: SMSC and MMSC in iCore

To learn more about this report, please contact iGR directly.