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LTE Subscribers to Double in 2013, Top 100M

January 22, 2013

Fastest Mobile Networks 2012

Global LTE subscribership is expected to more than double in 2013, surpassing the 100 million mark, according to new data from IHS iSuppli.

The research firm projected that by the end of the year, 198.1 million people around the world will subscribe to LTE services. That's up a "remarkable" 115 percent from 92.3 million last year.

Just three years after its original deployment, the next-generation wireless technology has "grown by leaps and bounds," with no signs of slowing down, IHS iSuppli said. After being adopted in 2010 with just 612,000 users, LTE surged to 13.2 million subscribers in 2011, then jumped a whopping 599 percent to nearly 100 million subscribers last year. By 2016, LTE is expected to claim more than 1 billion users.

As LTE grows, its ecosystem will face challenges and opportunities, Wayne Lam, senior analyst for wireless communications at IHS, said in a statement.

"Rapid adoption will drive design innovations, particularly in smartphones, but issues like spectrum fragmentation will also remain an overhang for the LTE industry that requires attention," Lam said. "Overall, however, the LTE space will be less worried about rifts or divisions in technology, and more concerned with laying the foundation for sustained growth across the entire LTE landscape."

Though wireless network operators around the globe have been busy continually building out the infrastructure for LTE technology over the past three years, the majority of new subscribers in 2011 and 2012 came from North America. Much of the growth in subscribership during the past two years came from smartphone upgrades, as tech-savvy consumers began seeking out LTE technology.

Verizon is leading the 4G LTE charge in the U.S., with coverage for more than 476 markets and plans to complete its rollout by the middle of this year. During an earnings call this morning, Verizon said it sold 7.3 million 4G LTE devices during the fourth quarter, of which 6.4 million were smartphones.

Meanwhile, AT&T's 4G LTE network is now live in 135 markets while Sprint offers service in at least 29 cities. T-Mobile recently promised it would begin upgrading to 4G LTE before the end of January.

LTE subscribers



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