Spending on LTE infrastructure equipment rose 38 percent in the third quarter of 2011 compared to the previous quarter, despite the ongoing European Union sovereign debt crisis. The LTE market is also up 330 percent year on year, according to international market research and consulting firm Infonetics Research.  Combined with WiMAX equipment, the ‘4G’ market passed US$1billion during the quarter.

Principal analyst for mobile infrastructure Stéphane Téral said although Verizon Wireless has passed its peak spend on LTE, there is a second wave of LTE spending taking place, including AT&T and the earlier-than-expected ramp up by fellow US operator Sprint. “Combined, these activities are helping LTE take off even faster, prompting us to increase our LTE forecast,” he said.

Téral said there are challenges with European and Middle East operators struggling to generate new revenue, but that “the telecom world is not falling apart.” As Europe’s big five operators – Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, Telecom Italia, Telefonica and Vodafone – are all cash rich, they can continue to invest in infrastructure, Téral added.

“The fundamentals of the market are intact; service providers must continue upgrading their networks to manage relentlessly growing traffic. As a result, we maintain our view that this crisis continues to have minimal impact on telecoms overall,” Téral said.

Although the 2G, 3G and 4G mobile infrastructure market is 4 percent down compared to the previous quarter – a seasonal trend according to Infonetics Research – the global mobile equipment market was 8.6 percent up compared to the same quarter a year ago, hitting US$10.8 billion. Alcatel-Lucent remained the top vendor in the LTE market with just under a 1 percent market share lead over Ericsson.