During the fourth quarter of 2012, the LTE subscription rate in Asia-Pacific increased by 60.92 percent quarter-on-quarter (QoQ), reaching 34.6 million.
ABI Research forecasts that the LTE subscription market will continue to grow rapidly in 2013 -- to reach 72.1 million.
“The operators in South Korea have aggressively promoted LTE since launch," said Marina Lu, research associate at ABI Research.
For example, SK Telecom, the largest operator in terms of subscriptions, had gained 7 million LTE subscribers by the end of 2012, and aims to secure 13 million by the end of 2013, a feat that will mean 50 percent of its subscribers will be on LTE.
The Asia-Pacific 4G cellular market still has considerable potential. In 4Q-2012, Asia-Pacific had notched up 3.45 billion subscriptions, up 8.7 percent year-on-year (YoY), resulting in a cellular penetration of 87.5 percent.
"The strong growth trend of mobile subscription is expected to keep up until 2015, where it will surpass 100 percent," stated Jake Saunders, VP and practice director of core forecasting.
In terms of significant movers and shakers, China Unicom, the second largest mobile subscription operator in Asia-Pacific, has grown its mobile subscribers 22 percent YoY compared to Q4-2011 to attain 239 million, making it the fastest growing operator in Asia.
The next fastest growing operator was China Telecom, which increased its subscriber base by 16.89 percent YoY, reaching 160 million subscriptions -- fueled by 3G tariffs and increased smartphone adoption.
Smartphone penetration stood at 19.4 percent at the end of 2012, and is expected to approach 26.5 percent by year-end 2013. Moreover, the third fastest growing (15.44 percent) operator was Indonesia’s Telkomsel with 125 million subscriptions.