Ericsson is now number two, followed closely by Nokia.
Nokia leads LTE market
Nokia, which has acquired Alcatel-Lucent, remained the leader in the global LTE equipment market with 34 percent share, ahead of Huawei and Ericsson, according to the mobile infrastructure market report from IHS Markit.
“All indicators point to 2016 being the first year of decline of 2G/3G/4G macrocell deployments. The shift from hardware to software in the mobile infrastructure market is underway,” said Stephane Teral, senior research director, mobile infrastructure and carrier economics, IHS Markit.
Mobile infrastructure drops
Dragged by all regions, macrocell mobile infrastructure revenue fell 11 percent in Q3 2016 to $10 billion.
Despite some activity by telecom network operators in big markets such as China, Japan and North America, the mobile infrastructure market declined 4 percent on a sequential basis.
LTE infrastructure revenue fell 3 percent year-over-year and rose 1 percent quarter-over-quarter driven by evolved universal terrestrial radio access network (E-UTRAN), which rose 3 percent.
China was once again fairly strong for LTE, but nowhere near last year’s heights. China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom are making investment in 4G networks in the country.
2G / 3G infrastructure revenue was down 11 percent sequentially and 20 percent year-over-year, kept alive by wideband code division multiple access (W-CDMA) in Japan.
Telecom software surges
Globally, revenue of telecom software that goes into 2G, 3G and 4G networks grew 17 percent in 2015 over 2014 to $15.2 billion, mostly driven by LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) upgrades that account for the bulk of fast-growing software revenue.
By 2020, software segment is expected to grow at a five-year (2015‒2020) compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9 percent, surpassing $23 billion.
Telecom software will sustain the entire mobile equipment market until 5G kicks in, creating an inflection point and bringing some much-needed growth.