A new report from Pyramid Research says the U.S. now accounts for the largest number of of LTE subscriptions in the world for this year, thanks to Verizon Wireless.
The firm said that 26 major mobile operators have launched LTE networks, but just three of them account for 47 percent of LTE connections in 2011. They are Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), MetroPCS (NYSE:PCS) and AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T). Verizon Wireless' LTE service now covers 160 million people and accounts for the majority of U.S. LTE subscribers. Pyramid estimates that U.S. carriers will be responsible for 7 million of the 14.9 million LTE subscriptions expected around the world this year.
Pyramid analyst Emily Smith said in a blog post that the strong demand for mobile broadband in the U.S. will allow operators to swiftly recoup spending on capital investments.
"Let's look at Verizon and NTT Docomo - both are the largest operators in their respective countries, and both launched LTE in December 2010. Although Verizon's LTE network will cover 60 percent of the population by year end, because the operator is pulling in so much revenue, capex only represented 14.7 percent of revenue over the past four quarters," she wrote. "By comparison, NTT Docomo will cover a mere 20 percent of the Japanese population with LTE by March 2012, even though capex represented a larger 15.8 percent of revenue in the year ending March 2011."
Pyramid also said U.S. sales of handheld devices embedded with LTE radios will exceed 5.4 million units in 2011--making up 71 percent of LTE devices that are sold worldwide. The firm said the U.S. should further bolster its leading position in LTE once companies like Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) and Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) begin offering LTE service in 2012.
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