LTE networks will reach a tipping point by end-2011, with 55 networks up and running, the GSM Association (GSMA) predicts.
Spokesman Dan Warren told Telecoms Europe.net the number of commercial networks is set to soar from 18 currently, and that roaming and voice services are already becoming mainstream.
“Through 2011 I expect multi-band modems with HSPA and EV-DO for the likes of Verizon,” Warren said, adding. “I expect expansion in the spectrum supported.”
However, current LTE networks will rely on dongles and modems as their main ‘devices’ until at least 2015. That’s when the GSMA expects subscriber numbers to hit 300 million – a sufficient point for handset vendors to begin producing compatible devices in earnest, Warren explains.
The Association noted that HSPA connections doubled to 400 million in 2010.
The Association is also looking to boost the market for embedded SIMs, announcing its first standards for the cards at the Mobile World Congress this morning.
Warren said the UICC cards are an essential component of smart meters and other machine-to-machine (M2M) kit for industries including automotive, consumer electronics, and healthcare.
Embedded SIMs are “key for M2M applications where devices have a long life,” Warren told TE.net, pointing to the difference between M2M kit and regular mobile handsets that are typically updated every 18 to 24 months.
The Association developed its market requirements with leading global carriers, and plans to submit the results of its study to European standards body ETSI by the end of the month.
In the meantime, show-goers can get a feel for the technology in action at an embedded house demo being held on one of the GSMA’s several stands at the event.