LTE subscriptions increased by 149.1 million in Q4 2014, surpassing 3G subscriptions growth by 10.9 percent, said ABI Research.
LTE subscriptions will cannibalize the 3G subscriber base, growing at a CAGR of 21 percent between 2015 and 2020, to reach 3.5 billion.
The telecom analysis by ABI Research said that Asia Pacific leads the global LTE subscriptions with 48.6 percent share, followed by North America and Western Europe. Global 2G subscriptions will continue to fall through 2020 and stand at 1.69 billion.
China gained almost 100 million LTE subscriptions in 2014. China Mobile has almost 90 percent share of the LTE market in China.
“Since China Unicom and China Telecom were granted preferred FDD-LTE licenses in March 2015, it is expected that China will overtake the United States to become the largest 4G market in the world, accumulating 500 million LTE subscriptions, or 36.5 percent of the domestic cellular subscriptions in 2015,” said Marina Lu, research analyst at ABI Research.
The ABI Research report is silent about the possible LTE growth in India, where Bharti Airtel and Aircel have launched 4G services. Reliance Jio Infocomm is expected to launch its services this year.
Due to consolidation activities in the mobile industry, Western Europe had temporary fluctuations to the number of mobile subscriptions.
In Q4 2014, Telefonica Germany excluded 428,000 mobile accesses from its mobile subscriptions due to the adjustment in the former E-Plus customer base. This led to a drop in subscriptions though enhanced LTE coverage and availability of new devices helped Telefonica gain more subscriptions.
In yet another consolidation, Hutchison will purchase O2, making 3UK the largest mobile operator in the United Kingdom. Everything Everywhere (EE) is the largest mobile operator, with LTE subscriptions of 7.6 million in 2014.