Thursday, 12 March 2015 15:16

Year-End 2014: Nearly Half a Billion LTE Connections Worldwide Featured

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Wireless trade association, ‘4G Americas’ says LTE connections have reached a milestone of 498 million LTE connections worldwide, with the AP region surpassing North America.

4G Americas is a wireless trade association representing the 3GPP family of technologies, and is composed of ‘leading telecommunications service providers and manufacturers’, so it clearly has the credibility to be issuing news of an LTE milestone, although the data was gathered by Ovum

Well known companies on its Board of Governors include: Alcatel-Lucent, América Móvil, AT&T, Cable & Wireless, Cisco, CommScope, Entel, Ericsson, HP, Intel, Mavenir, Nokia, Qualcomm, Sprint, T-Mobile US, Inc. and Telefónica.

4G Americas says North America ‘contributed significantly’ to the total number of global LTE connections at 33%, or 164 million of that 498 million total, but the Asia Pacific region actually surpassed the US and Canada ‘in terms of total LTE connections’.

Chris Pearson, the President of 4G Americas said: “North America is still considered the global LTE leader. In terms of market share, penetration and coverage, the U.S. leads the world and remains at the head of the class in technology and spectrum innovation. As expected, Asia Pacific has added a large amount of LTE connections over the past six months, passing North America for the first time.”

Of course, Australians now enjoy LTE-A connectivity from Telstra, Vodafone and Optus across various parts of those respective networks, and naturally, we are part of the Asia Pacific region of the world.

North America

In North America, LTE subscriptions represent 40% of all mobile connections. This compares to ‘the next leading regional market’ of Western Europe at nearly 13% and Asia with 10%.

We’re told that ‘penetration of LTE in the U.S. with 164 million LTE connections was at 49% based on the country’s population of about 318 million, while ‘LTE coverage in the U.S. has achieved more than 300 million of the population (referred to as POPs coverage), which means roughly 94% of the U.S. population has access to LTE service.’

If you want more North American metrics for mobile broadband, 4G Americas tell us that this market ‘includes 75% penetration of smart phones’ according to March 2015 data from Chetan Sharma.

And while Aussies are already enjoying the fruits of the telcos’ LTE-A labours, leading U.S. carriers, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, are looking toward LTE-Advanced to meet the growing demand for advanced data services, with Ovum stating that by 2020, nearly 60% of all LTE subscriptions will be on LTE-Advanced.

Additional stats include:

  • There are 67 commercial LTE networks deployed in U.S. and Canada
  • 164 million LTE connections as of December 2014 a for net gain of 64 million new LTE customers in the last 12 months - a 64% growth.
  • There are also 275 million HSPA and LTE mobile broadband connections, or 67% market share.

Latin America

Latin America has seen a substantial increase in LTE deployments and subscribers with an impressive 488 percent annual growth from 2 million LTE connections at year-end 2013 to 12 million at year-end 2014.

4G Americas says ‘this may be largely attributed to the spectrum auctions that have occurred throughout the region allowing service providers the ability to offer LTE services to their customers beginning primarily in the densely populated urban cities. GSM still hovers above both LTE and HSPA with a total of 436 million subscribers in the region; however, it continues to decline year-over-year.’

Jose Otero, 4G Americas Director of Latin America and the Caribbean, provided examples of how spectrum allocation jump starts mobile broadband advancement.

He noted that, “Allocation of spectrum in Argentina and Venezuela catalysed the deployment of three new LTE networks in these markets. There are several spectrum auctions already announced for this year and we expect at least ten new LTE commercial networks during 2015. In addition, we might see LTE-Advanced expanding to new markets as operators strive to position themselves as innovators.”

  • 59 commercial LTE networks in 22 countries; increased from 37 LTE networks twelve months ago
  • 12 million LTE connections as of December 2014; growth of 488% during the past twelve months
  • 266 million HSPA connections for net gain of 72 million new HSPA customers in the last 12 months, 36% market share
  • 3GPP mobile broadband (HSPA and LTE) represents a market share of 38% 

Global

During 2013 to 2014, 4G Americas reports that the Asia Pacific region had nearly 152 million LTE additions; North America added 64 million new LTE subscriptions; and Western Europe had nearly 50 million additional LTE connections. Global LTE connections totalled 498 million, with an annual growth of 141%.

LTE is currently deployed on 367 networks in 121 countries. LTE-Advanced is also gaining speed globally; currently 54 networks in 35 countries have deployed the technology.

  • 497 million LTE subscriptions; up from 206 million at the end of 2013
  • Nearly 2 billion HSPA and LTE combined mobile broadband subscriptions
  • 7.1 billion total cellular connections; 6.7 billion 3GPP subscriptions

Chris Pearson, 4G Americas President added: “We are thrilled to see the rapid rise of LTE and LTE-Advanced not only in the Americas, but throughout the world. As key stakeholders in the industry continue to drive the advancement of LTE well into the next decade, we are eager to see how LTE innovation will possibly play a key role in providing the mobile broadband foundation for 5G technology in the future.”

For future reference, 4G Americas maintains a current list of LTE deployments in the Americas on its website

4G America’s mission ‘is to advocate for and foster the advancement and full capabilities of the 3GPP family of mobile broadband technologies, including LTE-Advanced and beyond to 5G, throughout the ecosystem's networks, services, applications and wirelessly connected devices in the Americas.’


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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