Week in Research: China drove up mobile backhaul sales in 2011; Rural customers tune into OTT video

China likes Ethernet-based backhaul: The mobile backhaul market in 2011 benefitted from China's rise in Ethernet mobile backhaul router purchases, says Infonetics in its new Mobile Backhaul Equipment and Services market share and forecast report. "The nice bump up in the mobile backhaul market in 2011 was due in large part to a surge in Ethernet mobile backhaul router purchases in China," said Michael Howard, principal analyst and co-founder of Infonetics Research, adding that the region's "surge will subside in 2012" followed by a period of slow and steady growth beginning in 2013. Overall, the global mobile backhaul equipment market grew 8 percent, to $7.4 billion, in 2011, following a 10 percent increase in 2010. Between the years 2012 to 2016, $39 billion will be spent on mobile backhaul equipment, the report said. From a vendor perspective, Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO), Huawei, Tellabs (Nasdaq: TLAB), and ZTE (Shenzhen: 000063.SZ) lead the fast-growing Ethernet mobile backhaul routers and gateways segment. Over 90 percent of mobile backhaul equipment sold is IP/Ethernet-based, a factor driven by wireless operators trying to lower mobile data traffic costs, in addition to  accommodating the 3G mobile broadband data transition, and move to IP as the basic technology of LTE and WiMAX. Release

Rural customers tune into OTT video: Over the Top (OTT) video is not just a major city and town phenomenon. A new study by last mile vendor Calix (NYSE: CALX) revealed that rural subscribers love online video. In its first U.S. Rural Broadband Report, conducted by collecting data from Compass Flow Analyzer software installed in its U.S. customers’ networks, the vendor revealed that video streaming was the dominant broadband-enabled application. Video streaming accounted for 67 percent of downstream Internet traffic and 13 percent of upstream traffic in the networks of the 45 service providers from which it collected data for its analysis. The majority of the Internet streamed content, or 80 percent, was delivered through large content distribution network providers such as Level 3 Communications (NYSE: LVLT), Limelight Networks (Nasdaq: LLNW), and Akamai. Businesses generated the most upstream traffic, accounting for 53 percent of all upstream traffic. Interestingly, service providers that offered fiber-based access services generated 2.67 times more traffic than those service providers that offered copper-based services. Although application use varied across different regions, the top 5 percent of U.S. rural network subscribers used over 100 GB of downstream traffic and accounted for about 50 percent of Internet traffic. Release

Multiplay service offers continue to rise: Offering service providers the opportunity to create greater customer stickiness and more up-sell opportunities, all of the large domestic and international service providers offer some multi play bundle that incorporates standard voice, data, and video services. New analysis conducted by Strategy Analytics' Fixed Broadband Price Benchmarking Service revealed that bundled service packages--including both double and triple play--are just as common as standalone service offers and often cost more for consumers. Based on a study of broadband services from 133 ISPs in 40 countries, the research firm said that average price of a triple play bundle of broadband, TV and phone, cost consumers an extra USD$20-25 a month more in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) over a standalone broadband service. A standalone 45 Mbps unbundled broadband connection, for example, costs $55, while the PPP for a triple play bundle package costs about $76. "While bundled services are generally more expensive than unbundled, there are exceptions to this rule, typically occurring when alternative providers, like cable companies, price unbundled choices higher than bundled packages in order to steer customers toward a wider range of services," said Josie Sephton, senior consultant for strategy analytics. Release