LTE subscribers to reach almost 1.4B globally in 2015

ABI Research predicted the total number of LTE subscribers will hit almost 1.37 billion by the year-end, as the technology thrives in markets around the world.

The research company added that the number of LTE subscribers is expected to exceed 3.5 billion by 2020, rising by a CAGR of 5 per cent from the 650 million recorded in 2014. Investment in LTE infrastructure is also expected to grow nearly 10 per cent year-on-year.

Separate figures provided by the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) estimated that the global LTE subscriber base stood at 635 million in the first quarter of 2015. The GSA also forecasts that LTE subscriptions will exceed 1 billion worldwide by the end of 2015, and predicts there will be closer to 3.7 billion subscriptions by the end of 2020. By then the number of LTE subscribers should exceed the 3G/WCDMA-HSPA global base.

Basing its estimates on data supplied by Ovum, the GSA noted that LTE subscriptions increased by 123.7 million in the first quarter, while GSM subscriptions fell by 100 million and 3G subscriptions increased by 77.9 million. Thus LTE is continuing to outpace any other mobile technology in terms of user take-up.

"382 million LTE subscriptions were gained in the past year, equivalent to an impressive 151.4 per cent annual growth, and is driven by demand for an improved user experience of mobile broadband and the wider access to smartphones," said Alan Hadden, VP of research at the GSA.

In terms of the different regions, Europe is still building its share of the overall market and accounts for 16.4 per cent today. Asia-Pacific remains the market leader with a 49 per cent share, followed by North America, although its share fell to 28.3 per cent of global LTE subscriptions compared to 45 per cent a year earlier.

A strong performance for LTE was also achieved in the Middle East with annual growth of 240 per cent in the first quarter. Russia is another fast-growing LTE market and achieved fourfold growth in the number of its LTE subscriptions over the past year, the GSA commented.

In terms of networks, 393 operators have commercially launched LTE systems in 138 countries and the GSA forecasts there will be 460 commercially launched LTE networks by the end of 2015.

Meanwhile LTE Advanced (LTE-A) is a major industry trend in all regions: some 116 operators equating to around 30 per cent of LTE operators are investing in LTE-A carrier aggregation technology worldwide and are at various stages of deployment. Close to one in six LTE operators have commercially launched services on LTE-A systems.

For more:
- see this ABI Research release
- see this GSA release

Related articles:
Vodafone UK's LTE strategy showing glimmers of success: analysts
Telenor, Telekom Austria open door to 220M subscribers with LTE roaming deal
Russian LTE deployments are picking up steam despite many challenges
GfK: Global smartphone growth slows as demand drops in some regions
Safaricom to bring 4G to 13 more cities this year

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