The worldwide mobile infrastructure market will slump nearly 10% over the next five years, according to a report from the Dell'Oro group.
The decline will be worst in the first two years, with the market shrinking to levels not seen since 2004, the research firm said.
And the road to recovery will be slow, with growth remaining in the low-single digits until at least 2013.
"The market has been experiencing and will continue to experience very steep price erosion," stated Scott Siegler, Senior Analyst of Mobile Infrastructure research at Dell'Oro Group.
Siegler said intense competition in the increasingly vital markets of China and India had put squeezed on vendor profit margins.
Operators would continue to deploy the necessary capacity to keep up with demand, he said. "However, offsetting our forecast of high double-digit growth in total base station shipments over the next five years is a 40% decline in base station ASPs."
The road to LTE will provide some relief, with initial LTE rollouts expected in 2010, Dell'Oro said. By 2013, eNode B shipments will make up nearly 10% of the 2 million base station shipments worldwide.