Indian telecoms Airtel, Reliance Jio will get a boost as the 4G LTE service revenue will be $73.8 billion in 2013 and $530 billion by 2018.
The number of LTE subscribers globally will reach 183 million in 2013, ABI Research said.
Over the next 2 years, 123 network commitments will go commercial.
ABI Research says 193 operators have gone commercial out of 470 LTE commitments that were tracked by the research agency.
By 2018, LTE deployments will have population coverage of 57 percent (4.2 billion) and 31 percent (2.3 billion) in legacy WCDMA and CDMA2000 markets respectively.
TD-LTE coverage will achieve 49 percent population coverage by the end of the five year period, said Jake Saunders, VP – core forecasting at ABI Research.
4G in India
ABI Research’s forecast that 4G service revenue will reach $73.8 billion in 2013 and $530 billion by 2018 is a significant confidence booster for the Indian 4G segment.
At present, Indian operators — Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio Infocomm — are still in the initial phase of rolling out TD-LTE services.
While Airtel has 4G presence in 4 major cities across India, the billionaire Mukesh Ambani-promoted Reliance Jio Infocomm will start offering 4G early next year.
Their roll out is slow due to regulatory issues, lack of strong business model, lack of cost effective handsets, etc.
LTE macrocell base stations growth
By 2018, the number of LTE macrocell base stations will reach 2.43m to achieve the population coverage targets. Small cells are an integral part of the LTE operator’s network strategy. 18,000 LTE outdoor small cells will ship in 2013, and will expand to 986,000 by 2018.
LTE subscriptions for the initial 8 quarters (Q4 2010 to Q3 2012) have outstripped WCDMA (Q1 2003 to Q4 2004) both in terms of growth-rate and absolute numbers (47.5 million LTE versus 18.3 million).
LTE-Advanced roadmap will introduce a series of innovations that not only offer potential data download speeds that of 1 Gbps but also advanced video streaming services such as eMBMS. Korea Telecom has become the first global telecom operator to launch LTE-Advanced in the world. (See the pix)
LTE-Advanced’s R.12, the 3GPP’s latest iteration, will be a significant upgrade as it allows for reduced base station activity of always-on signaling as well as easier integration and management of M2M devices.
OTT and mobile VoIP
Meanwhile, Infonetics Research earlier said that OTT mobile VoIP subscribers will reach 1 billion in 2013. Both Reliance Jio Infocomm, which has nation-wide 4G license, and Bharti Airtel are testing VoLTE services to improve their service revenues.
Freddie Kavanagh, VP applications solutions, Tektronix Communications, said: “The market can expect a significant bout of merger and acquisition activity in 2013 and beyond, as CSPs enter into joint ventures with OTT providers and look to accelerate growth in market share by acquiring OTT competitors. This will help drive premium service offerings and revenue and will also help ensure that OTT services minimise impact on the operator network infrastructure. These OTT services will be developed in closer collaboration with the operator.”
As mobile internet access becomes more pervasive, end-users are becoming more inclined to use VoIP apps for voice calls. While OTT providers like Skype and Viber have prospered on the growing demand for VoIP services, operators are responding through investment in VoLTE and the development of their own VoIP applications.
How LTE will impact voice
According to Mark Windle, head of Marketing at OpenCloud, LTE roll-out will make the voice services market much more competitive. Mobile VoIP has only been viable to date over WiFi and 3G+ networks. Although both can sometimes provide sufficient bandwidth for the use of voice services they do place restrictions on the user. Wi-Fi is limited to fixed locations for nomadic rather than mobile users. Whilst genuinely mobile users can make VoIP calls over 3G+, coverage and capacity is limited which leads to erratic and unreliable service. LTE makes much more efficient use of the spectrum than 3G/3G+ and so reduces the cost-per-bit of data.
To compete in the LTE voice services market, network operators must take control of their services’ roadmaps and become the pioneering companies they once were. The key step is that operators must break away from the habit of accepting the compromise of proprietary, closed solutions that are expensive and time-consuming to customize. They should harness the power of open VoLTE solutions to establish the competitive differentiation to retain voice market share.