Number of subscribers set to double over the next year.
The number of 4G LTE mobile broadband subscriptions is expected to double from an estimated 105 million this year to almost 220 million in 2014, according to new research from Juniper.
With 2012 being a breakthrough year for 4G LTE services, the new report predicts that subscribers will begin to sign up in volume this year. However, while 4G LTE still has a limited global reach, the emerging factor that is expected to drive consumer uptake in the forecast is the embedding of LTE technology in consumer devices.
Meanwhile, the research suggests that there is a significant opportunity for operators in the world’s developing markets to completely bypass 3G and introduce 4G LTE directly.
Juniper’s study also found that TD-LTE (Time Division) will play a key role, especially in the emerging markets. FD-LTE (Frequency Division) and TD-LTE are two different standards of 4G LTE technology - TD-LTE is a cost effective 4G solution that makes efficient use of the unpaired spectrum, while FD-LTE requires paired spectrum.
Driven by China, Japan and India, TD-LTE is expected to see an increased network rollout from other parts of the world. China Mobile announced a $6.7 billion investment in rolling out TD-LTE this year.
“Ultimately, using TD-LTE requires consideration of the available smartphone ecosystem and evaluation of dual-mode LTE chipsets. However, dual mode (TDD/FDD) terminals will soon become widely available and accessible for operators with TD spectrum”, said report author Nitin Bhas.
This means that device vendors, including Apple, will need to make versions available that work with TD-LTE if they are to increase its market share in other parts of the world, such as China.
Elsewhere, 4G LTE revenues are also set to experience rapid growth, reaching more than $340 billion globally by 2017. Around 70 per cent of these revenues will be generated by markets in North America and Asia.