Mobile capital expenditure in Western Europe was down 3.8 percent on the previous quarter, according to Jupiter Research, despite operators building out 4G networks and improving their 3G services.

With year-on-year spending growth down by 19 percent, the analyst firm also forecast that overall capital expenditure will drop 12 percent in 2012 to US$14.4 billion.

“Western European carriers are at different stages in development, which will very likely impact 4G adoption patterns,” said ABI Research VP for forecasting Jake Saunders.

In terms of individual operators, T-Mobile’s regional capex for the first half of 2012 was 4.9 percent lower than the same period in 2011, with the operator citing a difficult economic climate and reduced access to funds. The operator is concentrating its capex on LTE.

Vodafone’s capex was also slightly down despite the organisation making improvements in coverage and quality of service.

However, France Telecom’s network investment rose 6 percent in the first half of 2012 with the acceleration of its LTE investment in France.

Telefonica reduced capex by 12.7 percent in Spain in response to quality indicator improvements. However, UK capex was up 9.5 percent as it improved network coverage and capacity and refarmed 900MHz spectrum in urban areas. Germany also saw increased capex as Telefonica expanded its LTE network.