One Billion 4G LTE Connections Predicted By 2017 – GSMA

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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GSMA says one in eight mobile connections will be LTE within four years

There will be more than one billion LTE connections worldwide by 2017, according to a report from GSMA intelligence, which claims that the migration from 3G to 4G services is happening considerably faster than the transition from 2G to 3G.

The study, published today, predicts a significant increase from the 176 million users currently enjoying superfast mobile broadband services and says the number of operational LTE networks will double within the next four years to 465 in 128 different countries.

Global LTE connections

Wireless, 4G LTE © alexmillos Shutterstock 2012Currently, the US, Japan and South Korea account for 80 percent of global 4G connections, but the rollout of LTE services in India and China is likely to increase Asia’s share to 47 percent. Global coverage currently stands at 20 percent of the world’s population, but this is estimated to increase to 50 percent, with one in eight mobile users expected to be using LTE.

“Since the launch of the first commercial 4G-LTE networks in late 2009 we are seeing deployments accelerate across the globe,” says Hyunmi Yang, Chief Strategy Officer at the GSMA. “Our new report highlights a number of factors that are driving LTE growth: the timely allocation of suitable spectrum to mobile operators; the availability of affordable LTE devices; and the implementation of innovative tariffs that encourage adoption of high-speed data services.”

UK 4G coverage

The UK’s first 4G service operated by EE launched late last year and the company claims to have more than one million subscribers as coverage expands to 140 towns and cities before the end of 2013.

Vodafone and O2 have since launched competing services, while Three will become the final major UK operator to rollout LTE on 4 December, at no extra cost to new and existing customers.

Communications regulator Ofcom is looking at ways to increase the amount of spectrum available for mobile broadband services in the UK, including freeing up the 700MHz band currently used by Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) transmissions and is already looking towards the rollout of 5G.

LTE networks have been deployed on 12 different frequencies around the world, but four out of five use either the 700MHz, 800MHz, 1800MHz or 2600MHz bands.

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