As network build outs begin to taper off and subscribers take up LTE devices, carrier operating expenditures will surpass capital expenditures by 2015 according to a report released by iGR Market Research last week.
“Most of the largest U.S. operators are already well advanced in their LTE network rollouts,” Iain Gilliott, president and founder of iGR, wrote in a press release. “Others may lag behind, but LTE deployments overall are still progressing quickly – perhaps more quickly than could have been foreseen 12 to 18 months ago.”
The major operators have been investing capital expenditures in LTE over the last two to three years and now as their LTE subscriber base is growing, they are incurring increased LTE operating expenses, according to the report.
Based on the anticipated rapid growth of LTE subscribers and data traffic on the networks, total U.S. LTE infrastructure OpEx projected to be $57.4 billion, while CapEx is expected to be only $37.7 billion between 2012 and 2017.
“Operators are striving to provide sufficient coverage to be competitive and sufficient capacity to meet the needs of the growing subscriber base, while minimizing unnecessary CapEx and OpEx,” said Gillott. “This report clearly shows there remains a limited amount of time for significant CapEx expenditures in the U.S. LTE infrastructure market, and that the operators’ LTE OpEx levels will overtake LTE CapEx levels in two years.”