LTE boosts mobile gear by 17% in 2012

Mobile communications equipment market to hit half-trillion-dollar mark in 2015, IHS says

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Thanks to 4G LTE technology, the global market for mobile communications gear will grow 17% in 2012, according to research firm IHS, formerly iSuppli.

The revenue received by manufacturers of mobile communications equipment should reach $398 billion, up 17% from $340.8 billion in 2011, IHS said Thursday. Mobile communications equipment includes smartphones and other mobile handsets, tablets, and wireless infrastructure gear such as routers.

LTE networks, which offer as much as 10 times the speed of 3G wireless data technology, require infrastructure gear as well as LTE transmitters on smartphones.

"Both consumers and wireless providers are embracing LTE," noted Francis Sideco, an IHS analyst. "The transition to LTE is driving growth both on the consumer and infrastructure end of the wireless business in 2012 and beyond."

IHS predicts the mobile communications equipment market will mushroom beyond the half-trillion-dollar mark by 2015. The growth from 2010 to 2011 was 32%.

Smartphones with 4G chips will be $21.7 billion of the total 2012 market, but that is up 372% from $4.6 billion in 2011, IHS noted.

IHS said LTE growth is partly due to companies that have moved off WiMax in favor of LTE, including Beceem Communications and French-based Sequans Communications. Also, Samsung and Motorola Mobility are producing their own LTE chips, after having turned in the past to Qualcomm for 3G cellular chips.

LTE network deployments involve a combination of different types of large and small cell sites, sometimes instead of cell towers. These sites are known as base stations and can be large or small, and some have low-power needs. Some carriers call the devices for LTE in the field "metro cells," which can be mounted on shopping mall structures, in subways and along railways to augment coverage in locations with high data traffic.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is

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