Wireless carriers, especially Sprint and AT&T, are expected to increase their infrastructure spending in the next few months as they prepare for the deployment of their respective 5G networks and continuously improve their current LTE networks. The commercial 5G networks are expected to be fully operational by the year 2020 but initial deployments may happen by the year 2018. Analysts from Deutsche Bank speculate that it will be Sprint and AT&T who will be the biggest spenders for its 5G networks. For Sprint, its CEO has hinted on an increase in capital expenditure as it plays catch-up with other carriers. This is in sharp contrast to its actions in the previous fiscal year, where it reduced its spending for network infrastructure by half. The increase in capital expenditure for infrastructure is very good news for Sprint subscribers, who will likely see improvements in its network coverage and density.
Even if it will take a year or two before 5G networks see its first deployments, the carriers are expected to spend a bit more. These include additional network equipment installations to support unlimited data and video and facility deployments to utilize newly acquired frequencies. For the latter reason, AT&T and T-Mobile are expected to spend significant amounts of cash in the next few years. For its part, AT&T is currently deploying additional facilities that could support its WCS and AWS-3 frequencies. In addition, AT&T is expected to spend more money on network infrastructure for its 5G Evolution network, which improves on its current LTE network to increase its data speeds. Meanwhile, T-Mobile is also expected to spend a considerable amount of money for its 600MHz LTE network, which deployment will proceed in full swing by the year 2018. Also, all carriers are expected to spend a bit more on their LTE networks as they increase capacities to fulfill the growing need for mobile data of its subscribers.
In an earlier estimate released by SNS Telecom, the wireless carriers in the US are expected to spend $21 billion dollars on their network as they deploy 5G New Radio-capable equipment. In addition, another $7 billion will be spent to improve the network backhaul to fulfill the requirements of 5G networks, which include lower latency and increased data speeds.