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4G LTE Mobile Subscribers will Exceed 2 Billion by 2019

By the end of 2013, global LTE-related cellular subscriptions had surpassed 230.9 million -- that's 3.3 percent of all mobile subscribers worldwide -- and will continue to grow at a CAGR of 36.6 percent between 2014 and 2019, to exceed 2 billion.

Mobile internet usage isn't the only market driver. The extensive presence of 4G LTE networks is also stimulating the deployment of Voice over LTE (VoLTE) technologies.

By the end of 2014, there are expected to be 59.6 million VoLTE subscriptions in place, and it's forecast that nearly 56 percent of LTE-related cellular subscriptions will be using VoLTE services by the end of 2019, according to the latest market study by ABI Research.

For VoLTE to be a success, there needs to be widespread adoption of the technology by mobile handset vendors and not just the mobile network operators.

"There are some promising signs, though -- it is anticipated that Apple will incorporate VoLTE into iPhone 6," said Marina Lu, research analyst at ABI Research.

The strong subscriber adoption in 2013 has correlated with strong LTE-enabled handsets shipments, equivalent to 335.4 million units in 2013 -- that's up by 222 percent year-on-year.

LTE is not just stimulating the sale of LTE-enabled handsets but also LTE-enabled tablets and USB dongles. This has been sustained by the growing popularity of shared-data plans and better LTE network coverage.

In 2014, LTE-enabled media tablets are expected to ship 12.8 million units annually along with 10.6 million USB dongle units.

Mobile network operators have continued to invest significantly in 4G LTE infrastructure, which is forecast to cover around 64 percent of the world’s population by 2019.

Early LTE roll-out can confer first mover advantage. In the Asia-Pacific region, South Korean operators have used LTE to boost profit margins (9.4 percent higher than normal). China Mobile is pinning its hopes on LTE-TDD to help it catch up with its competitors in mobile broadband services.

In the United Kingdom, the mobile service provider Everything Everywhere has gained four times as many LTE subscribers as the nearest competitor in that market.

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