Of those, 20% will be TD-LTE subscribers, though that variation on the technology is likely to remain an Asia Pacific play because deployments in other regions “will not drive the economies of scale expected from the deployments that will occur in China and India next year,” analyst Basharat Ashai says.
LTE is set for robust subscriber growth over the next few years due to near universal backing for the technology by carriers, analysts predict.
IHS iSuppli forecasts LTE subscriber numbers will hit 11.6 million by end-2011 – up from 300,000 at end-2010 - and grow 443% to 62.8 million in 2012. The growth will continue in the years to 2015, when the firm predicts customer numbers will hit 744.2 million – roughly 10% of the world’s total mobile subscriber base at that point.
Analysts at the firm believe the unprecedented pace of adoption of LTE is being driven by the presence of a common air interface that previous 2G and 3G standards lacked.
Rival firm Maravedis offers more conservative figures, revealing that LTE subscriber numbers hit 6.25 million by end 3Q11 and predicting the figure will hit 448 million by 2016.