LTE baseband market will expand 47% as carrier aggregation drives device replacements, report says

The total LTE baseband market will expand by 47 percent to reach 338 million units this year, according to a new report from Forward Concepts. The firm said the LTE baseband market totaled 291 million units in 2013, up from 103 million in 2012.

LTE baseband market

Source: Forward Concepts

Carter Horney, author of the report, said smartphones represented 73 percent of the LTE device market in 2013 with LTE tablets accounting for 16 percent. "We expect tablets and hybrid notebooks to drive standalone LTE modem penetration rates in 2014 while integrated com-processors continue to lead in revenues," he added.

Intel, which was the second-leading supplier of 3G thin modems during 2013, is expected to also become the second-leading supplier of LTE thin modems this year. "Their focus will be on winning 3G/4G modem orders for notebooks and tablets. They will be challenged by Marvell's 3G/4G PXA802 TD- LTE modem, which also supports TD-HSPA+ and is already shipping to ZTE," Forward Concepts said.

According to the report, the rollout of LTE Advanced carrier aggregation by mature LTE operators will propel replacement rates for LTE-capable devices this year and into 2015 as end users seek devices capable of more bandwidth and higher data rates.

Carrier aggregation allows carriers to meld together disparate bands of spectrum for wider channels, thus supporting faster download speeds and additional network capacity. South Korean operator SK Telecom was the first to launch carrier aggregation when it announced it had rolled out LTE-A technology in June 2013. It was followed into LTE-A carrier aggregation by fellow South Korean carriers LG U+ and Korea Telecom.

In the United States, AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T) has started rolling out carrier aggregation in certain markets, such as Chicago, where it is using carrier aggregation to transmit over both 700 MHz spectrum and 2100 MHz AWS spectrum to produce a 15 MHz-wide downlink. This would enable theoretical download speeds of around 110 Mbps.

As part of its Spark initiative, Sprint (NYSE: S) also intends to use carrier aggregation to combine two of its TD-LTE channels in the 2.5 GHz band toward the end of this year or early next year to deliver peak download speeds of roughly 120 Mbps.

For more:
- see this Forward Concepts release

Related articles:
Sprint's Saw: Spark to hit 120 Mbps peaks at end of 2014, 180 Mbps peaks at end of 2015
AT&T lights up LTE Advanced carrier aggregation in Chicago, other markets
Operators should put the focus on services, not speed
AT&T edging into LTE Advanced technologies for capacity, not speed
SK Telecom rolls out LTE Advanced with carrier aggregation

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