* To invest $70 mln in LTE this year
* Any possible lift to capex from LTE to remain small
* Says could see more M&A among telco gear suppliers
HELSINKI, April 13 (Reuters) - Telecommunications operator TeliaSonera AB TLSN.ST expects its investments in new LTE networks to have little impact on its overall spending on equipment, a company executive said, dampening hopes of an investment rise from the technology transfer.
TeliaSonera -- the world’s eighth largest mobile operator with 148 million subscribers in Europe and Asia -- was the first carrier in the world to open a LTE network in December 2009.
Lars Klasson, chief technology officer at TeliaSonera, said the company plans to invest 500 million Swedish crowns ($70 million) in LTE networks this year, but total investments are likely to change little.
“If there is any rise, it will be small,” Klasson told a news conference in Helsinki late on Tuesday.
Many are hoping the struggling industry would get a boost from additional spending worth billions of dollars.
TeliaSonera invested a total of $1.95 billion in its networks last year.
The telecoms network equipment market has struggled as operators cut spending amid the recession and due to pressure om prices from Chinese vendors Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] and ZTE Corp 0763.HK.
Canadian vendor Nortel went bankrupt last year as it struggled with falling demand and prices, and Klasson said the number of equipment providers would likely fall further.
“It’s really tough time. I am not sure the consolidation in the industry is done. There are still some suppliers which are below critical threshold,” Klasson said.
The mobile telecoms equipment market is dominated by Ericsson ERICb.ST, Nokia Siemens Networks [NSN.UL] and Huawei, while smaller vendors such as Alcatel-Lucent SA ALUA.PA are struggling. (Reporting by Tarmo Virki; editing by Andre Grenon)
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