Ericsson revealed that global LTE subscriptions grew by 40 million in the final quarter of 2013, taking total users to 200 million by the end of the year.
Despite the growth, the vendor's interim update to a regular report on the global mobile market shows that LTE still lags other mobile broadband technologies, with WCDMA and HSPA subscriptions growing by 70 million in the fourth quarter of 2013.
Total mobile broadband subscriptions--the sum of all three technologies--increased by 150 million to 2.1 billion during the quarter, while total mobile subscriptions including GSM grew by 6 per cent year-on-year--and 1.5 per cent sequentially--to 6.7 billion.
Ericsson notes that the total mobile subscriber figure is a little misleading because some users have more than one subscription. Subtracting those users leaves the global total at 4.5 billion, the vendor said.
Global mobile data traffic grew 70 per cent year-on-year to around 2 petabytes in the fourth quarter, while voice traffic remained largely flat year-on-year.
The vendor concurs with most analysts regarding smartphone growth in 2013, estimating that total sales of these devices hit 1 billion during the year. The vendor estimates that around 60 per cent of all phones sold in the final quarter of 2013 were smartphones, which is in line with recent Gartner figures for the period that placed the share at 57.6 per cent.
Asia Pacific, excluding China and India, dominated net additions during the period with an increase of 26 million users, with Africa the next highest region with net additions of 17 million. Western Europe and Middle East registered the lowest net additions in the final three months of 2013, with 3 million new users apiece, while Central and Eastern Europe, and North America gained 5 million users each.
On a country-by-country basis, India tops the tables with net adds of 22 million, followed by China (21 million), Indonesia (6 million), U.S.A (5 million), and Bangladesh (3 million).
Mobile penetration figures show India still has plenty of room to grow. The country registered the lowest penetration among all markets and regions covered by the Ericsson report, at 59 per cent. Central and Eastern Europe registered the highest penetration at 143 per cent, and Western Europe the second highest at 127 per cent.
Total global penetration hit 92 per cent by the end of 2013, the report revealed.
The Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) revealed in January that 705 new LTE user devices launched in 2013, taking the total to 1,371 devices, including frequency and carrier variants. Smartphones accounted for 39 per cent of the total, the GSA said.
ABI Research recently forecast that LTE networks will cover half of Africa's population by 2018, and LTE subscriptions will surpass 50 million in the region by the same year.
- see Ericsson's interim report
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