Mobile network operator upgrades and transitions to more cost-effective packet microwave systems will drive a 4.3% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in capital expenditures (Capex) for microwave backhaul equipment, according to a new forecast from ABI Research. Mobile operators will spend $5 billion in microwave backhaul equipment in 2012. Asia-Pacific and Western Europe will continue to dominate sales in the microwave equipment market, accounting for a combined 61% market share in 2017.

Operational expenditures (Opex) from leased T1/E1 and fiber backhaul makes for a global $6.2 billion market that will grow at a 2.2% CAGR, according to ABI’s Mobile Backhaul Research Service. “We believe mobile network operators are increasingly lowering their TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) by using Capex to replace leased T1/E1 and fiber backhaul with modern, high capacity, cost effective, packet based microwave links,” commented ABI principal analyst Nick Marshall.

ABI forecast that Backhaul Opex on leased copper-based T1/E1 lines will continue to decline, shrinking at a -1.1% CAGR to total only $4 billion in 2017. “T1/E1 based backhaul is no longer compatible with modern 3G/4G mobile networks and will phase out as operators increasingly transition away from legacy TDM systems,” Marshall elaborated.

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