Report: 4G to cover over a third of the global population this year

LTE, or 4G, networks are expected to cover more than a third of the global population by the end of this year, as deployments continue to accelerate across the world.

According to latest information from GSMA Intelligence, 4G coverage will be available to 35 per cent of the global population by the end of 2015, up from 27 per cent at the end of last year.

The number of 4G operators globally stood at 352 by the end of January 2015. The number of 4G connections also more than doubled from 200 million at the end of 2013 to 490 million at the end of 2014. Some 7 per cent of all global mobile connections were running on 4G networks at the end of 2014, up from 3 per cent a year earlier, the research company added.

"GSMA Intelligence forecasts that global 4G connections will grow at more than 30 per cent a year (CAGR) from 2014 to 2020," said Hyunmi Yang, chief strategy officer at the GSMA. "There is a tipping point we typically see when 4G grows to account for more than 20 per cent of a market that drives adoption of new services. This 20 per cent threshold has already been reached in some markets, and is forecast to happen by 2017-18 on a global basis, which will have a huge transformational impact."

GSMA Intelligence also expects this strong 4G momentum to continue between now and 2020. Global 4G connections are forecast to reach 875 million by the end of 2015, accounting for 12 per cent of total connections. By 2020, 4G is expected to account for more than 30 per cent of global connections. 4G networks are then expected to cover 63 per cent of the global population.

In terms of geographic coverage, Europe is currently home to the most individual 4G operators (108). However, almost half (47 per cent) of the world's 4G connections are based in Asia Pacific, concentrated in markets such as South Korea, Japan and, increasingly, China.

Indeed, GSMA Intelligence said China is on track to reach 300 million 4G connections by the end of this year, overtaking the U.S. to become the world's largest 4G market. At the end of 2014, China Mobile had 90 million 4G connections, establishing it as the world's largest 4G operator.

For more:
- see this GSMA Intelligence report

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