China's investment in 3G infrastructure will nearly treble this year to $6.3 billion, with another $6.1 billion to be spent in 2010.
This is the calculation from researchers at iSuppli, who believe the 2011 figure will be lower, as the operators finish their main build-outs, but still “healthy” at $5.88 billion.
“After a strong increase in purchases of wireless communications gear in China in 2009, 2010 will bring a 2.4% decline to $6.1 billion as China Telecom completes purchasing for its massive roll-out of 3G base station transceivers,” iSuppli analyst Will Kong said.
After 2011, spending will decline slightly each year, with the three operators forecast to spend $5.2 billion between them in 2013, when the majority of the networks will be completed.
All this roll-out should support a growth in 3G subscribers from 338,000 in 2008 - when only China Mobile had live networks - to more than 100 million by 2013, Kong predicts.
China Mobile had installed 44,000 TD-SCDMA base stations as of the end of June and is expanding its coverage to 238 cities during its third round tender, adding 60,000 new base stations and 450,000 transceivers.
However, Kong says: “China Mobile's 3G network deployment speed is much slower compared with its competitors in China. This is surprising, given the company's reputation for capable execution.