The U.S. market will lead in LTE subscriptions through 2015 when it will be overtaken by China, according to new forecasts from Informa Telecoms & Media.
The U.S. lead is attributed partly to Verizon Wireless' (NYSE:VZ) early commercial LTE launch last December. Informa predicts that Verizon will support more than 4 million LTE subscribers at the end of 2011, representing 63 percent of total global LTE subscribers.
"Although 26 operators worldwide have launched LTE networks, Verizon stands out with more than 3 million subscriptions in 3Q11, putting it on track for more than 4 million by year-end. That will represent 63 percent of total global LTE subscriptions of 6.4 million at end-2011," says Mike Roberts, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.
Roberts added that Verizon increased its share of U.S. mobile subscriptions from 31 percent in the fourth quarter 2010 to 33 percent in the second quarter 2011--thanks to LTE and the introduction of the iPhone. "That's a huge swing in six months, particularly in a mature market such as the US," he said.
Other operators will drive LTE subscribers too. AT&T (NYSE:T) launched LTE markets in September, while Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) plans to launched LTE-Advanced in mid 2012. Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP) will launch LTE in December, and US Cellular is planning to introduce LTE in March 2012. MetroPCS (NYSE:PCS) was the first to launch LTE in September 2010.
"LTE has taken off in the US due to a unique combination of high mobile broadband penetration, early availability of choice spectrum, and the need for CDMA plays to deploy LTE early to gain a new competitive edge," Roberts said.
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