LTE to increase in connections by 2018
There will be 1.6 billion LTE connections (excluding M2M) worldwide by 2017, making up 18 percent of the market, but generating over 40 percent of service revenues, according to Strategy Analytics.
Explosive growth in the last quarter helped make 2012 the breakthrough year for LTE services as connections in the dominant markets of South Korea, the US and Japan rocketed. There were 88 million connections on LTE networks at the end of 2012, with Strategy Analytics predicting this number will grow to 322 million in 2013.
In third quarter of 2012, the world added 13 million LTE users, 20 million GSM/EDGE users and 65 million WCDMA/HSPA users, according to an Ericsson report.
Despite being in the early days of rollout, LTE networks can already provide downlink peak rates of around 100 Mbps, with current standardization allowing for even higher speeds. Today, peak speeds experienced by users are often limited by device capabilities. The evolution of LTE, also referred to as LTE-Advanced, enables peak data rates exceeding 1 Gbps.
Ericsson’s research shows that LTE is being deployed in a variety of new and existing spectrum bands and supports both Frequency- Division Duplex (FDD) and Time-Division Duplex (TDD). It also supports flexible carrier bandwidths from 1.4 MHz up to 20 MHz.
There are around 100 LTE networks in commercial operation today. LTE is the fastest developing system in the history of mobile communication. By mid-2012, LTE was estimated to cover 455 million people globally and by 2017 it is expected to cover around 50 percent of the world’s population.
Geographically, only sparsely populated areas remain to be covered by GSM/EDGE. WCDMA/HSPA covered more than 45 percent of the world’s population in 2011 and now covers more than 50 percent. Further build out of WCDMA/HSPA population coverage will be driven by a number of factors including increased user demand for internet access, the increasing affordability of smartphones and regulatory requirements to connect the unconnected. By 2017, an estimated 85 percent of the world’s population will have the opportunity to access the internet using WCDMA/HSPA networks.
APAC represents a large share of the global population. GSM’s population coverage in APAC last year and its subsequent forecast for 2017 closely mirror the overall global situation.
The WCDMA/HSPA population coverage is higher in APAC than the global average. It is estimated that by 2017, 90 percent of the population will be covered by WCDMA/HSPA networks.
The WCDMA/HSPA networks that currently provide coverage to more than half of the world’s population support various speeds. All WCDMA networks deployed worldwide have been upgraded with HSPA. Around 75 percent of HSPA networks have been upgraded to a peak downlink speed of 7.2 Mbps or above and approximately 50 percent have been upgraded to 21 Mbps or higher.
Around 20 percent of HSPA networks now have speeds of up to 42 Mbps in whole or parts of the network following a wave of upgrades. We are already seeing evolutionary steps towards speeds of over 100 Mbps.