Mobile networks near capacity, survey finds
By Stephen Lawson
July 18, 2011 08:55 PM ET
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IDG News Service - Mobile networks in North America are filled to 80 percent of capacity, with 36 percent of base stations facing capacity constraints, according to a survey by investment bank Credit Suisse.
Networks in other regions also are more than 50 percent utilized, with the global average at 65 percent, Credit Suisse said after surveying carriers around the world. That level of use matches the average "threshold" rate that would trigger the service providers to start buying more network equipment, the report said. Looking ahead, on average the carriers expected their utilization rate to grow to 70 percent within 12 months.
Credit Suisse used the results to predict new sales by makers of cellular equipment, such as Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia Siemens Networks and Huawei Technologies. But at a certain level, heavy use of a base station can also affect the mobile experience of individual subscribers. The survey found that 23 percent of base stations worldwide had capacity constraints (defined as a utilization rate over 80 percent during busy hours), while 36 percent in North America were under that kind of pressure.
The North American networks were 72 percent utilized two years ago. The region's carriers expect the rate to ease back down to that point within two years. North American service providers are likely to buy more equipment soon, because having their networks 74 percent filled is the threshold rate in that region, the survey said.