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4G Subscribers Latest Worldwide Forecast

The total number of 4G subscribers worldwide, including both LTE and WiMAX, is expected to exceed 90 million in 2013, but a number of milestones must be passed en route, according to a new forecast from ABI Research.

At the end of 4Q 2007 there were nearly 3.4 billion mobile phone service subscribers worldwide, with 2.7 billion on GSM/EDGE/GPRS networks. That's a lot of mobile phones, for sure.

Worldwide WCDMA subscriber numbers hit 180 million in 4Q 2007. ABI Research expects migration to HSPA+ to begin in early 2010, and migration to LTE will commence by the middle of the same year. Vice president Asia-Pacific Jake Saunders comments, "We forecast the total number of WCDMA subscribers (including HSPA) to approach 720 million in 2013."

Research analyst Hwai Lin Khor adds, "Some operators may not be ready to move on to LTE, as the peak data rates of 100 Mbps downlink and 50 Mbps uplink are achievable only with a 20 MHz spectrum band. That is a luxury that most operators may not have, and many may be content with the capabilities of HSPA+ or settle for suboptimal LTE data rates with whatever they have at the time."

"While the long-term roadmap for CDMA2000, especially in relation to UMB, looks more uncertain, CDMA operators are taking advantage of current upgrade possibilities," notes Saunders.

Many have upgraded portions of their networks to EV-DO Rev A during 2007 while new CDMA entrants start with Rev A -- ABI Research expects the total number of CDMA2000 subscribers (including 1x and various versions of EV-DO) to approach 800 million by the end of 2013.

ABI Research has an online database that presents a macro view of mobile subscribers in different regions and countries on quarterly and annual basis. It provides technology splits within each subcategory from 2002 to 2013. It is a component of the Consumer Mobility Research Service.

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