ABI Research today said LTE subscriptions reached 229.7 million in 2013.
TD-LTE, a technology used by telecom operator like Airtel, accounted for 5 percent of the global LTE market, while 94.2 percent of the LTE market was taken up by FD-LTE in 2013.
LTE connections will grow at a CAGR of 43.6 percent between 2013 and 2019 to exceed 2 billion, ABI Research predicted. This forecast is substantially higher than the forecast of 4G Americas and GSMA.
Among the LTE subscription growth, Asia-Pacific contributes with a 49 percent market share and North America with an 18 percent share.
Growth driver in Asia includes rapid LTE network deployment and cost-competitive smartphones.
ABI Research forecasts that LTE-Advanced subscribers will grow to 750 million in 2019 accounting for 37.3 percent of overall LTE subscribers.
North America will be the most aggressive LTE-Advanced market, followed by Asia-Pacific and Western Europe.
“South Korean operators, SK Telecom and LG U+, commercially launched LTE-Advanced networks in June 2013 and by the end of 2013, SK Telecom gained more than 1 million LTE-Advanced subscribers, which equates to 10 percent of all its LTE subscribers,” said Jake Saunders, VP and practice director.
The growth of LTE subscribers has also boosted ARPU, because they are bigger spenders than their 3G and 2G counterparts by 35 percent.
To revive traditional voice service revenues, many operators are keen to launch, deploy, or trial Voice over LTE (VoLTE) services as LTE network population coverage heads towards majority population coverage.
Earlier, GSMA and 4G Americas shared their forecast for 2017 and 2018.
4G Americas said LTE connections are forecast to reach 1 billion by early 2018.
Earlier, 4G Americas said that global 4G LTE subscriber base increased 110 percent to 157.7 million as of September 2013 from 75 million LTE connections in 2012. Out of this, 66 million 4G subscriptions were in Asia compared to 79 million in North America. North America’s current dominance is set to decline.
GSMA said 4G LTE subscriber base will pass one billion by 2017 — driven by India and China.
GSMA said LTE will account for about one in eight of the more than eight billion total mobile connections by 2017 against 176 million LTE connections at the end of 2013.
Global VoLTE subscriptions are expected to surpass 1.09 billion in 2019, of which 34.2 percent are from Asia-Pacific and 27 percent from North America.
ABI Research predictions on VoLTE reflect China Mobile plans.
China Mobile 4G
China Mobile President Li Yue at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2014 said the company is performing VoLTE network tests and plans to initiate scale-up tests in the second half of this year with the goal of commercializing VoLTE by the end of 2014.
In addition, China Mobile will accelerate the converged networking of FDD/TDD to provide global universal network solutions with high efficiency. 500,000 base stations will be constructed across 340 cities in China by the end of this year.
Also, China Mobile joined forces with South Korea’s KT to launch two-way global roaming service allowing interoperability between TD-LTE and FDD-LTE. In the future, China Mobile will partner with more international operators to provide 4G global roaming services.