Operators upgrading their networks to LTE-Advanced and growth in small cell deployments is turning around the microwave equipment market, new research has claimed.
The third quarter report from Infonetics said the global market had sales of $1.1 billion (€892.3 million), a growth of four percent on the previous quarter but a two percent decline on 2013.
Backhaul remains the most lucrative area for vendors, although researchers said access and transport remain "stable" markets.
It rated the top five vendors alphabetically as Alcatel-Lucent, Ceragon, Ericsson, Huawei, and NEC, adding that Europe, the Middle East and Africa is the biggest market, followed by Asia Pacific.
However, the report said the sector continued to be under considerable pricing pressure. ARPU for Ethernet-only products will be half of its 2013 value by 2018.
Richard Webb, Directing Analyst for Mobile Backhaul and Small Cells, said: "So far this year, the microwave equipment market has been in a revenue dip, trending downward due to pricing pressures and intertechnology competition with wireline backhaul alternatives. But now the combination of LTE-A upgrades and modest growth in small cell deployments is giving the market a small injection of energy."
He added: "Several vendors saw improved quarter-over-quarter results in the third quarter, and we expect the microwave equipment market to inch up in 2015."
Last week, a report from ABI Research said the small cell backhaul market was on the verge of a sales boost, thanks to expected demand for millimetre wave products.