By the end of 2014, China gained almost 100 million LTE subscriptions in the first year of full LTE commercialization, demonstrating an accelerating growth momentum, according to ABI Research. Thanks to the first-mover advantages, China Mobile seized almost 90% share of the total LTE market in China. “Since the other two China mobile operators—China Unicom and China Telecom—were granted preferred FDD-LTE licenses in March 2015, it is expected that China will overtake the United States to become the largest 4G market in the world, accumulating 500 million LTE subscriptions, or 36.5% of the domestic cellular subscriptions in 2015,” comments Marina Lu, Research Analyst at ABI Research.
In 4Q 2014, global LTE subscriptions increased by 149.1 million, which, for the first time, surpassed 3G subscriptions growth by 10.9%. LTE subscriptions will continue to cannibalize the 3G subscriber base, growing at a CAGR of 21% between 2015 and 2020, to reach 3.5 billion. Asia-Pacific leads the global LTE subscriptions with 48.6% share, followed by North America and Western Europe. Global 2G subscriptions will continue to fall through 2020 and stand at 1.69 billion.
Due to several consolidation activities in the mobile industry, Western Europe saw some temporary fluctuations to the total number of mobile subscriptions. In 4Q 2014, Telefnica Germany excluded 428,000 mobile accesses from its mobile subscriptions due to the adjustment in the former E-Plus customer base. This led to an overall drop in total subscriptions even though enhanced LTE coverage and availability of new devices helped Telefnica gain more subscriptions. “In the long-term, the consolidation will deliver synergies from network combination, overhead reduction, and retail shop rationalization. Through strengthening the competitive position and local scale, it might attract more customers,” adds Jake Saunders, VP and Practice Director. One more acquisition is expected in the United Kingdom: Hutchison purchasing O2; making 3UK the largest mobile operator. Currently, Everything Everywhere is the largest mobile operator, with aggressive LTE subscriptions of 7.6 million in 2014.
ABI Research’s semi-annual Mobile Subscribers market data, profiles mobile subscriber adoption by operator, country, technology, device type, and operator market share. These findings are part of the company’s Mobile Subscribers Market Research.
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