Ericsson predicted there will be a huge divide in LTE penetration levels in North America and Europe by 2019, and that WDMA/HSPA will continue to dominate the global market during the period.
In its latest Mobility Report, the company forecast LTE population coverage in Europe will be around 80 per cent in 2019, but said subscription penetration would stand at 30 per cent that year compared to a 65 per cent share for WCDMA and HSPA.
In North America, however, LTE is tipped to overtake those technologies to account for 85 per cent of subscriptions in 2019. Ericsson said strong competition, consumer demand, and CDMA operators' early decisions to migrate to LTE are fuelling strong subscriber growth in the region.
The company also expects large differences in technology usage to emerge between Western Europe and Central and Eastern Europe in the next five years.
While WCDMA/HSPA is the dominant technology in Western Europe today with a 70 per cent share of subscriptions, Ericsson predicted LTE will account for 50 of the subscriber base in 2019. The company said demand for LTE in the region is weaker than in North America, due to factors such as having many well developed 3G networks.
Central and Eastern Europe is tipped to see a strong increase in HSPA subscriptions this year. LTE will initially grow in the most developed parts of the region and will be present in almost all countries by 2015, Ericsson predicted.
Mobile subscriptions in Middle East and Africa are tipped to grow from 1.2 billion in 2013 to 1.9 billion in 2019. Ericsson predicts WCDMA and HSPA will be the dominant technologies in 2019, but noted that GSM/EDGE-only subscriptions "will still be significant," at that time.
On a global level, the Ericsson Mobility Report revealed that LTE is being deployed in all regions, and predicted subscriber numbers will grow from 240 million subscriptions at present, to 2.6 billion in 2019--representing around 30 per cent of total mobile subscriptions. However, Ericsson predicted WCDMA/HSPA will remain the dominant technologies in 2019, with subscriber numbers tipped to reach 4.5 billion
The report also forecast the total number of mobile subscriptions will exceed the world's population in 2015. Global mobile penetration reached 93% in the first quarter of 2014, with net additions of 120 million taking the global subscriber base to 6.8 billion. Ericsson predicted global subscriber numbers will hit 9.2 billion in 2019.
Mobile broadband subscriptions also continue to grow and will reach 7.6 billion by the end of 2019, representing more than 80 per cent of total mobile subscriptions, Ericsson forecast. Global mobile broadband subscriptions grew by around 35 per cent year-on-year to 2.3 billion in the first quarter of 2014.
Smartphone subscriptions are tipped to exceed basic phone subscriptions in 2016, and go on to account for 5.6 billion of the global subscriber total in 2019. In Europe, the number of smartphone subscriptions will reach about 765 million in 2019 and thereby exceed the region's population.
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