Telecom Lead Asia: LTE / 4G subscribers are projected to surpass the 100-million mark in 2013.
LTE / 4G subscribers worldwide will reach 198.1 million in 2013, up 115 percent from 92.3 million last year, according to IHS.
By 2016, LTE will claim more than 1.0 billion users, as shown in the figure attached, equivalent to a five-year compound annual growth rate of 139 percent.
“With LTE emerging as a true global technology standard, its ecosystem now faces both challenges and opportunities,” said Wayne Lam, senior analyst for wireless communications at IHS. “Rapid adoption will drive design innovations, particularly in smartphones, but issues like spectrum fragmentation will also remain an overhang for the LTE industry that requires attention. Overall, however, the LTE space will be less worried about rifts or divisions in technology, and more concerned with laying the foundation for sustained growth across the entire LTE landscape.”
While the majority of early operator activity was concentrated in Europe and Asia, North America propelled new subscriber activity in 2011 and 2012.
|IHS iSuppli Figure: Worldwide Shipment Forecast for Low-End Smartphones (Millions of Units)|
|Millions of Units||14.9||70.7||206.3||301.6||392.7||473.5||558.9|
|Source: IHS iSuppli Research, January 2013|
Source: IHS iSuppli Research, January 2013
The bulk of growth during the last two years also came from smartphone upgrades, especially as 4G LTE technology hit top-of-mind for data-savvy consumers. This is because more than any other type of phone, smartphones are able to take further advantage of the faster data connectivity provided by LTE, which leverages the kind of low-latency, always-on mobile broadband service that consumers now demand.
While the precursor 3G technology was deployed over a handful of spectrum bands globally, LTE so far has registered more than 40 different frequency spectrums, resulting in a complex landscape for equipment and component suppliers.
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1.6 billion 4G / LTE connections (excluding M2M) worldwide will generate over 40 percent of service revenues by 2017. Interestingly, 1.6 billion 4G / LTE connections will be 18 percent of the total market.
More countries will join South Korea, the USA and Japan in pushing the LTE technology aggressively into the smartphone market. There were 88 million connections on LTE networks at the end of 2012.
Strategy Analytics predicts that this number will grow to 322 million in 2013 and 1.6 billion in 2017.