The worldwide LTE subscriber base will reach a relatively modest 188.6 million by the end of the year, but will balloon to 1.3 billion by end-2018, Informa Telecoms and Media predicts.
If the predictions prove accurate, this would translate to a CAGR of 44% over the five-year period.
The US is the largest market for LTE, and is expected to remain so throughout the forecast period, Informa said. The nation will have 89.8 million LTE subscriptions at end-2013, and 242.1 million by end-2018.
Operators are ready and willing to roll out LTE. An operator survey on LTE launch strategies conducted by the research firm shows that 83.4% believe there is a viable business case to launch LTE today, and one third plan to launch LTE this year.
“LTE is providing operators with a new lease of life, and not just in terms of being able to offer an improved user experience, a chance to sharpen branding messages and an opportunity to differentiate themselves from rivals,” Informa senior analyst Paul Lambert said.
“Operators are also seeing changes in consumer behavior, and the initial signs are that LTE users are consuming more data than 3G customers - 28% of the operator respondents said they saw an increase in data usage of 11% or more when a subscriber migrates to 3G.”
But the way operators price and market LTE relative to 3G is crucial to operators' success, Lambert said.
“The most successful LTE operators have shown that not charging a premium for LTE is the key ingredient in ensuring LTE subscription take-up. Even if they price their LTE services on a par with 3G, LTE operators nonetheless have to position the new network in new ways to ensure they realize the maximum value from their investments in the LTE network.”