India, China to drive 4G LTE subscriber base to pass one billion by 2017: GSMA

4G LTE subscriber base will pass one billion by 2017 — driven by India and China, said GSMA. A telecom analysis report by GSMA said LTE will account for about one in eight of the more than eight billion total mobile connections by 2017 against 176 million LTE connections at the end of 2013.

Nearly 500 LTE networks are forecast to be in service across 128 countries, roughly double the number of live LTE networks today.

The GSMA report does not talk about challenges faced by telecom operators to roll out 4G.

LTE networks will be available to half of the world’s population by 2017 as compared with 20 percent of the population currently.

In the United States, LTE networks already cover more than 90 percent of the population, compared to 47 percent population coverage in Europe and 10 percent in Asia.

The United States accounts for 46 percent of global LTE connections; the United States, South Korea and Japan combined account for 80 percent of the LTE total today. However, Asia is expected to account for 47 percent of all LTE connections by 2017, as LTE networks are rolled out in major markets such as China and India.

China Mobile, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio Infocomm, etc. are the major telecom players to become aggressive with their 4G roll outs.

Half of total mobile connections in South Korea are now running on LTE networks – compared to 20 percent in Japan and the United, GSMA said.

India, China to drive 4G LTE subscriber base to pass one billion by 2017 - GSMA

In most cases, the migration to 4G-LTE is happening considerably faster than the earlier migration from 2G to 3G, the report said.

LTE users consume 1.5GB of data per month on average – almost twice the average amount consumed by non-LTE users.

In developing economies, operators have noted that LTE users can generate ARPU seven to 20 times greater than non-LTE users. In developed markets, operators have found that LTE can generate an ARPU uplift ranging from 10 per cent to 40 percent.

LTE networks worldwide have been deployed in 12 different frequency bands to date; four out of five live LTE networks today are deployed in one of four bands: 700MHz, 800MHz, 1800MHz or 2600MHz.

The average retail price (before discounts and subsidies) of LTE smartphones in developed markets such as the US has remained unchanged at around $450 for the last few years.

Handset subsidies have contributed considerably to the increase in LTE penetration over the last two years, but operators have also become more innovative in their pricing.

3G and 4G are one of the growth drivers for tablets. Tablet PC shipments, according to market research agency Canalys, accounted for 40 percent of PC shipments in Q3 2013, less than half a million units behind global notebook shipments.

Tablet domination is set to continue, with Canalys forecasting 285 million units to ship in 2014, growing to 396 million units in 2017. Apple and Samsung are expected keep ahead of their competitors in the medium term, but there could be challenges for both vendors as competition in the tablet market continues to heat up.