The rapid adoption of 4G LTE mobile broadband technology is likely in the next two years, with the subscriber number doubling from an estimated 105 million subscribers this year to nearly 220 million in 2014, according to the latest market study by Juniper Research.
The new study found that with 2012 being a breakthrough year for LTE and deployments gaining momentum, subscribers will begin to sign up for services in volume in 2013, but will still have a very limited global reach.
The emerging factor that is driving the consumer adoption within the forecast period and beyond is the embedding of LTE technology in consumer devices.
With LTE roll-outs gaining momentum, primarily in developed markets, Juniper Research acknowledges that while migration to 4G is expected to follow an evolutionary path.
There is a genuine opportunity for many mobile network operators in developing countries to completely bypass 3G and advance to the roll-out 4G LTE directly.
This is especially the case in countries where spectrum has been already allotted, thereby saving cost and time. As and example, the Kenyan operator called "Yu" recently announced that it would skip 3G and deploy LTE directly.
Juniper also found that TD-LTE (Time Division) will indeed play a significant 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 compared to FD-LTE which requires paired spectrum.
Driven by China, Japan and India, TD-LTE will see an increased network roll-out 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 Nitin Bhas, senior analyst at Juniper Research.
This means that mobile device vendors 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.
Other key findings from the market study include:
- 4G LTE revenues are set to grow rapidly, reaching more than $340 billion by 2017 globally.
- The vast majority of LTE revenues (almost 70 percent) will be generated by North American and Far Eastern & China markets.