IHS Markit expects double-digit decline this year as massive LTE rollouts come to an end.

China’s RAN and packet core infrastructure market is expected to show a CAGR of -34% in 2016-2021, predicted IHS Markit this week, as the country’s mobile operators complete their huge LTE deployments.

The research firm said on Monday 2G/3G/LTE infrastructure spending came in at $12 billion (€11.26 billion) in 2016, down 9% on 2015.

"LTE revenue declined to about $10 billion (-4% year-over-year) in 2016, sustained by flat eNodeB rollouts, and leaving combined 2G and 3G revenue at less than $2 billion," IHS Markit said.

The company said the network-sharing joint venture between China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom drove a 16% decline in LTE infrastructure spending.

IHS Markit anticipates a double-digit decline in the mobile network market in 2017.

China’s telcos have been rapidly rolling out 4G coverage over the last few years.

Market leader China Mobile deployed 400,000 4G base stations last year, bringing its total to 1.51 million. Its 4G network covers a population of more than 1.3 billion.

According to IHS Markit, large-scale coverage rollouts are now coming to an end in China.

It said the country boasted 1.3 billion subscribers at the end of last year, 58% of whom have LTE connections, up from 32% in 2015.