The number of 4G-LTE connections worldwide is forecast to pass one billion by 2017, according to a new study by GSMA Intelligence.
LTE users consume 1.5GB of data per month on average – almost twice the average amount consumed by non-LTE users, the GSMA found.
By 2017, it is expected that LTE will account for about one in eight of the more than eight billion total mobile connections forecast by that point, up from 176 million LTE connections at the end of 2013.
Nearly 500 LTE networks are forecast to be in service across 128 countries, roughly double the number of live LTE networks today.
“Since the launch of the first commercial 4G-LTE networks in late 2009 we are seeing deployments accelerate across the globe,” said Hyunmi Yang, chief strategy officer at the GSMA.
The study calculates that about 20% of the global population is currently within LTE network coverage range. As operators continue to expand LTE coverage over the next few years, it is forecast that LTE networks will be available to half of the world’s population by 2017.
In the United States, LTE networks already cover more than 90% of the population, compared to 47% population coverage in Europe and 10% in Asia.
The US currently accounts for almost half (46%) of global LTE connections, while the US, South Korea and Japan combined account for 80%.
Asia, however, is expected to account for almost half (47%) of all LTE connections by 2017, as LTE networks are rolled out in major markets such as China and India.
The study also found that:
- In most cases, the migration to 4G-LTE is happening considerably faster than the earlier migration from 2G to 3G;
- In developing economies, operators have noted that LTE users can generate ARPU seven to 20 times greater than non-LTE users. In developed markets, operators have found that LTE can generate an ARPU uplift ranging from 10% to 40%
- Four out of five mobile operators that have acquired ‘new’ spectrum since January 2010 have been allocated airwaves aimed at supporting the launch of LTE networks