With the current 3G networks proving incapable of handling the growth in mobile
data traffic, mobile operators in India, Saudi Arabia, and the U.A.E. are soon
expected to migrate to 4G technologies to accommodate the surge in data
LTE and Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access
(WiMAX) are the two competing 4G technologies expected to drive the growth in
mobile broadband, globally.
This surge in use of mobile broadband has been attributed to the proliferation
of smartphones and smart devices, along with the increasing use of social
networking and blogging tools, amongst others. Mobile broadband is also gaining
momentum because of the users’ need for seamless mobility and continuous
The increasing popularity of bandwidth-intensive mobile
applications has further boosted the use of mobile broadband. To sustain the
momentum, mobile operators in Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. are progressively
committing themselves to LTE technology, thus moving towards 4G services.
India is one of the fastest-growing mobile markets in the region, witnessing
high subscriber growth year-on-year. Frost and Sullivan estimates a Compound
Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 9.7 per cent in the mobile subscriber base, to
reach 1,440 million subscribers at the end of 2017, and mobile penetration
reaching 110.6 per cent.
Saudi Arabia is one of the largest mobile markets in the
Gulf region, with 51.6 million mobile subscribers and mobile penetration of 186
per cent; whereas the U.A.E. boasts of a highly-saturated mobile market, with
mobile penetration of 197.2 per cent.
The mobile consumers in Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. have
a strong demand for mobile data services. Hence, operators are progressively
upgrading their networks to offer high-speed data services. Saudi Arabia and
the U.A.E. are also expected to witness high LTE growth, with CAGR of 54 and 85
per cent, respectively.
With underdeveloped fixed broadband infrastructure, the Indian Government
hopes to achieve higher broadband penetration through wireless broadband. The
initial launch of 4G LTE service is expected in early 2012, with Reliance,
Aircel, and Bharti Airtel already announcing their firm commitment for the
same,” said Abhishek Chauhan, senior consultant, Information and Communications
Technology Practice, Frost & Sullivan, South Asia and Middle East.
However, the service launch will be limited to only a few
metros and major cities, with nationwide rollouts expected only in 2013-2014.
LTE subscribers in the country are estimated to grow at a CAGR of 258.9 per
cent in the next five to seven years. LTE revenues are expected to grow at a
CAGR of 220.5 per cent over the same period.
The U.A.E. has dynamic subscriber demographics due to its large expatriate
population. Similar to Saudi Arabia, the market has large youth population,
which is driving the demand for mobile services, particularly mobile Internet
and mobile data. Also, with high disposable income, the penetration of
smartphones, laptops, and tablet PCs is high and is expected to increase
The initial launches in Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. will be limited to only
major metros, with operators expected to increase their service coverage
gradually in 2012-2013. Though LTE penetration might see a marginal uptake
initially, it is expected to rise with gradual coverage expansion and more
developed device ecosystem.
LTE is expected to lead the shift toward 4G technologies in Saudi Arabia, the
U.A.E, and India, with the developing ecosystem and increasing support from
equipment vendors. The Report also recommends commitment and support from
equipment manufacturers and mobile operators to drive the growth in the LTE
market. It concludes with insights on the upcoming opportunities in India,
Saudi Arabia, and the U.A.E in the next 5-10 years.
By Telecomlead.com Team