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North America Accounts for 60 Percent of LTE Subs

According to the latest market study by ABI Research, LTE mobile network subscriptions are expected to exceed 40 million by the end of 2012, representing a fourfold increase over the nine million global LTE subscriptions in 2011.

The wide range of expected LTE smartphone launches in 2012 from major OEMs -- such as Nokia, Samsung, and Apple -- as well as the surge in data consumption, are the main causes behind the rise in LTE subscriptions.

Currently, the North American region accounts for 60 percent of total LTE subscriptions, followed by the Asia-Pacific region at 37 percent.

However, Asia-Pacific LTE subscriptions are expected to overtake North America by 2014, primarily driven by adoption in China, India, Japan, and South Korea.

"South Korea and Japan are witnessing amazing LTE subscription growth due to the availability of high-quality content, enabling the countries to be the next largest LTE markets after the U.S.," says Ying Kang Tan, research associate at ABI Research.

Having LTE data plans priced on par with 3G data plans were a major factor that accelerated the migration over to LTE.

The Asia-Pacific will also be the main growth engine for TD-LTE. Global TD-LTE subscription numbers will grow from one million subscriptions at the end of 2012 to 139 million subscriptions by 2017.

China, India, and Japan are collectively forecast to account for 92 million TD-LTE subscriptions.

That being said, spectrum fragmentation still remains the primary obstacle preventing LTE subscriber growth in the Asia-Pacific region to go full throttle. With LTE deployed in more than five spectrum bands, it creates additional costs for handset OEMs to develop an LTE smartphone for every band.

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