RealTime IT News

Upgrades Re-Charging Cellular Station Market

The outlook for makers of cellular base station equipment is picking up after several sluggish years, according to a new report.

IT research firm In-Stat said orders for gear that relays voice and data traffic will jump from 1.8 million units in 2004 to 3.5 million units in 2009.

"A combination of new technology, base station upgrades, and increases in needed capacity will drive the cellular base station market," the report said.

The overall trend is positive, but the next several years won't necessarily be a bonanza for vendors. Base stations are becoming less expensive; in some cases during the last five years, base station prices dropped by a factor of 10, In-Stat found.

"Still, increases in base station efficiency cannot keep up with the ever-increasing number of subscribers," wrote Nogee. He reckoned that the number of wireless customers will hit 2.6 billion in 2009, up from 1.6 billion in 2004.

Wireless carriers in the United States and abroad are pumping billions into network infrastructure to expand their coverage areas and increase capacity in order to offer more media and premium services.

For example, Verizon Wireless, the second-largest U.S. wireless carrier, switched on its 3G network in 30 U.S. cities this year and has steadily pushed out from those hubs, using base stations from network equipment maker Lucent Technologies .

Other base station makers include Ericsson , Motorola , Samsung and Nokia . Nortel , despite its corporate upheaval as a result of recent accounting questions and errors, is maintaining steady sales, Nogee told internetnews.com.

As for geographic growth, carriers in Japan and Western Europe are building out new networks that require additional base stations and China and India are expected to be fast-growing markets as well, Nogee said.