Global wireless capital expenditure flat at $194 billion in 2015

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Analyst firm ABI Research said global wireless capital expenditure (capex) will remain flat in 2015, due to strong US dollar impact on the purchase power of mobile operators and the regional unrest in Middle East and North African regions.

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As compared to 2014, ABI Research forecasts a slight decline of 0.6% in global capex. North American operators such as AT&T and Verizon are expecting the percentage of capex to revenue to decline in 2015.

?As LTE reaches universal coverage in North America, operators focus on network densification and user experience optimization. The FCC?s Net Neutrality and Title II classifications also negatively impact the investment sentiment of network operators,? commented Lian Jye Su, research analyst at ABI Research.

On the other hand, operators from Europe, Middle East and Africa are committed to their network upgrades and will drive future growth as they target the global enterprise market.

Wireless networks are increasingly heterogeneous and layered, virtualized, software-defined, cloud-based, and self-organizing, the analyst firm said.

As multiple operators such as Vodafone, Singtel, MegaFon, and Softbank, are currently testing 5G technology, ABI Research forecasts 5G to start around 2020, with capital expenditures anticipating 5G starts a few years ahead.

ABI Research said the spending will be less on macro basestations and more on small cells and small cell clusters.

Just as the deployment of LTE has demonstrated a lesser degree of complexity as compared to the deployment of 3G, the deployment of 5G will involve less major hardware swap-outs but rather will be more modular and software centric. Likewise, the capex in the percentage of revenue shall remain stable or even decline.

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