Three UK operators now offer 4G service and number four is on the way. In Spain, 3000 new 4G transmitters are expected to be rolled out next Spring by Telefonica while the French government says that the number of cell towers authorized for 4G use jumped by 21% in September alone. For all of 2013, the carriers in the Europe, Middle East and Africa will spend $1.6 billion on 4G equipment, up from the $599 million they spent in 2011. By 2015, the figure will reach $2 billion. In North America, spending on 4G hardware will peak this year at $2.2 billion and drop back below $2 billion by 2016.
By 2017, the Europe, Middle East and Africa region should be spending as much on 4G hardware as North America
If the carriers aren't making any money, at least we know that the equipment makers are. China's Huawei and Sweden's Ericsson have received 40% and 34% respectively of the global 4G network business. The Europeans have been slow to rollout 4G mostly because they paid the price for being too early to offer 3G and it took years for the operators to recoup their investments. But it is a brand new day. Smartphones are everywhere and data speed is an important metric. Once the Europe, Middle East and African region sees how fast data runs on 4G, demand for 4G should increase, allowing the carriers to eventually expand profit margins.