Global wireless capital expenditure (CAPEX) will remain flat at US$194 billion this year with a slight decline of 0.6% compared to last year, according to market research firm, ABI Research. The trend is due to strong U.S. dollar impact on the purchasing power of mobile operators and the regional unrest in Middle East and North African regions. The trend is further compounded by the decline in the CAPEX by North American operators such as AT&T and Verizon as they move to the next stage from building coverage to network densification and user experience optimization. However, active network upgrades by European operators are helping to offset the decline. ABI Research believes the spending will be less on macro base stations and more on small cells and small cell clusters.
ABI Research forecasts the CAPEX from 5G to start flowing few years before 2020, when 5G service is expected to be commercially rolled out. The market research firm said that major operators, such as Vodafone, Singtel, MegaFon, and Softbank are currently testing the technology. ABI added that the deployment of 5G will involve less major hardware swap-outs but rather will be more modular and software centric.