SINGAPORE: “A number of Asian operators are bracing themselves for a quickening in 3G and 4G subscriber adoption in 2012,” says Jake Saunders, VP of forecasting. “Asian capital expenditure in 2012 is forecasted to increase 5.7 percent year-on-year to $58.8 billion.” Across the region, over 63 percent of the CAPEX budget for 2012 will focus on the construction of radio access network infrastructure, 8 percent on upgrades and capacity expansions to the core network, and 29 percent on development of new technologies and new businesses, construction of backhaul transmission facilities, etc.
Several Japanese operators are stepping up their 4G marketing and promotional campaigns:
* NTT DoCoMo is expected to have transitioned 100 percent of its subscribers to 3G/4G services by the end of March 2012 and switch off its 2G network completely. MTT DoCoMo completed a soft launch of its 4G LTE service in December 2010 and subscribers have ratcheted up to 0.66 percent (390,000) of the operator’s installed base.
* KDDI’s WiMAX subsidiary achieved 1.237 million users (3.54 percent share of installed base) and 95 percent+ coverage of Japan’s main cities.
* SoftBank plans to launch its 4G TD-LTE service in mid-February or March and has announced that TD-LTE smartphones will be on retail shelves by mid-2012.
In China, China Mobile has reaffirmed its commitment to accelerate TD-SCDMA/TD-LTE development so as to further develop mobile Internet services and enable the “Internet of Things.” China Unicom’s investment strategy has been to accelerate 3G network building, optimize 2G network coverage, expedite indoor coverage, and establish WiFi hotspot zones to increase network capacity. China Telecom is focused on rolling out integrated information service projects, strengthened the integration of wireline and mobile IT platforms, and implementing risk control systems.
In India, by contrast, only 10 to 20 percent of base stations are 3G-based. Operators like Idea are adding around 2,000 new cell sites per quarter to their networks and almost 3,000 3G base stations in base station upgrades and new cell site deployments.