The momentum behind LTE adoption may be slow among consumers globally, but operators are clearly on the bandwagon, according to a new report form Informa Telecoms & Media. The report, a survey of operators conducted in May with 528 respondents, found that 58.9 percent of operators plan to launch LTE services this year (33.7 percent) or next year (24.9 percent). Further, the survey found that 70.5 percent of carriers think that LTE represents a viable business case today.
According to the Informa survey, the main reasons carriers are launching LTE is to create new revenue streams (34.7 percent); to build brand value through technology leadership (31.3 percent); and to increase capacity to offer mobile broadband services (23.3 percent).
Data from Signals and Systems Telecom found there were 6.4 million global LTE subscriptions at the end of the fourth quarter of 2011. The firm said the United States and Japan accounted for 72 percent and 23 percent of the total subscriptions, respectively. According to Informa's own data, the rollout of LTE is being slowed by the relatively dearth of LTE devices.
Interestingly, Informa's survey also found that most carriers are not yet charging a premium for LTE access. "Because LTE technology, at the moment at least, is an extension of the mobile broadband experience, initial evidence suggests that mobile users aren't prepared to pay a significant premium for LTE access," said Informa analyst Paul Lambert.
In the United States, Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) do not charge extra for LTE data access compared to what they charge on their 3G networks. However, this may change when they move to shared family data plans. Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) has said it will maintain unlimited smartphone data when it launches commercial LTE service by mid-year.
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