Telecom firms' spending on network gear seen picking up in 2013
* Gartner predicts 2.3 pct rise in spending after 6.6 pct fall in 2012
* Companies in U.S., Asia, Brazil to lead on spending, Europe stalled
* Second wave of 4G mobile network investments begins
* Equipment makers Ericsson, Huawei seen remaining ahead of pack
* NSN much improved after restructuring, Alcatel struggling
By Leila Abboud
PARIS, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Telecom network operators are expected to increase their spending on equipment this year, giving a boost to vendors like Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent after economic weakness caused a sharp market contraction in 2012.
Industry executives and market researchers give varying forecasts for the size of the jump ahead, but all expect equipment demand in the United Stattes, Brazil, and China to fuel growth as operators step up their investments in faster fourth generation (4G) wireless broadband networks.
Europe is expected to stagnate again this year after the debt crisis and economic woes caused operators to sharply cut network spending last year. Although groups like Vodafone and France Telecom are building 4G networks, they are more cautious than U.S. counterparts such as Verizon and AT&T because of fears that the extra investment won't pay off in Europe where mobile prices are lower. Continued...