50% African population will be covered by LTE networks by 2018, says ABI Research

50 percent of African population will be covered by 4G LTE networks by 2018, as LTE base station deployment will grow at a CAGR of 40 percent over the next five years, said ABI Research.

African LTE cellular subscriptions are projected to multiply at a CAGR of 128 percent to surpass 50 million at the end of 2018 — nearly half are expected to be able to use VoLTE services.

Increasing affordability of LTE handsets a few years down the road will be the growth driver in Africa.

LTE handset shipments will increase by 75 percent annually on average in the next five years. Given the poor fixed-line infrastructure, people will depend on the wireless network for Internet access. There is a strong business case for mobile operators to roll-out LTE early to take advantage of the opportunity.

Mobile Africa

The report does not talk about the price erosion for LTE handsets. Also, it does not talk about the total number of handsets being shipped during the period.

Coverage of LTE will vary from country to country, ABI Research pointed out.

LTE network coverage will not be homogenous across the region. A few countries such as Angola and Namibia will be nearing the halfway point already, while wealthier nations like Botswana and Gabon have yet to deploy the LTE networks.

“Part of the underlying reason for this digital divide is the different types of initiatives driving LTE roll-out,” said Ying Kang Tan, research associate.

ABI Research expects wholesale or shared networks such as the joint venture between the Rwandan government and Korea Telecom and the public-private partnership proposed by the Kenyan government to enhance LTE deployment.

While the public-private partnership has stalled, the government is considering a spectrum sharing agreement to resolve the matter. Other initiatives such as a pure LTE operator, Smile, will also introduce new dynamics into the wireless market.

picture source: globalenvision.org

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