16 Million Mobile LTE Subscribers by Year’s End

Oyster Bay, New York - 03 May 2011

LTE is starting to gain critical momentum as we move through 2Q-2011. Currently 12 countries have commercial LTE services, and according to ABI Research VP of Forecasting Jake Saunders, “ABI Research projects that by the end of the year there will be some 16 million subscribers using LTE mobile devices.”

A wide range of business models underpin LTE services. In Germany, T-Mobile’s LTE service, called “Call & Surf Via Funk,” is priced at $53/month in districts where xDSL fixed-broadband services are limited. The end-user is entitled to a fixed telephony line and an LTE connection, using a Huawei-manufactured wireless router offering download speeds of up to 3 Mbps.

NTT DoCoMo’s LTE service, branded “Xi” (and pronounced “Crossy”) allows customers to enjoy high broadband speeds in the Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka areas. Population coverage stands at 7% through the coverage of 1,000 base stations. NTT DoCoMo aims to attain 70% coverage relying on 35,000 base stations by 2014. Monthly tariffs will run between $12 and $79.

Even at this early stage LTE is not only being deployed in mature markets but also in emerging markets. TeliaSonera has begun rolling out coverage in Uzbekistan. Uzbek operator UCell was awarded a 4G license in July 2010, and ZTE helped the operator to roll out 4G LTE coverage to its 5.4 million subscribers. Monthly fees start at $50 per month.

A key success factor for LTE will be LTE smartphones. “The shift to 4G differs from the shift to 3G because of smartphones’ capabilities,” says research director Phil Solis. “In the US, people are actively looking for 4G as a handset feature, spurred by heavy marketing of 4G smartphones. Sprint’s success with WiMAX smartphones is an indicator of the scale Verizon Wireless and AT&T can achieve with LTE smartphones this year.”

In March 2011, the Global mobile Suppliers Association reported there were 100 LTE-ready devices. Only 13% were smartphones and media tablets, but these devices will see higher volumes. In 2014, more than 205 million LTE mobile devices will ship, 72% of which will be handsets.

For more information, visit ABI Research’s “4G Subscriber, Device, and Networks Market Data” which contains regional and selected country-level segmentation for the 4G market. It is part of the firm’s 4G Research Service.

ABI Research provides in-depth analysis and quantitative forecasting of trends in global connectivity and other emerging technologies. From offices in North America, Europe and Asia, ABI Research’s worldwide team of experts advises thousands of decision makers through 30+ research and advisory services. Est. 1990. For more information visit www.abiresearch.com, or call +1.516.624.2500.

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