LTE’s staggering growth rate

The latest edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report reveals that 60% of the world’s population is due to be covered by Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology in 2018, with subscriptions set to exceed one billion in 2017, and 2 billion in 2018.

Ericsson said that LTE has become the fastest developing system in the history of mobile communication due to the fast speeds and high quality user experience that it offers.

It has now been launched on all continents (except Antarctica), by 156 operators active in 67 countries.

Despite being in the early days of roll-out, by the end of 2012 LTE was estimated to cover 10% of the world’s population.

Mobile subscriptions by region

Mobile subscriptions

According to Ericsson, the number of mobile subscriptions worldwide has grown approximately 8% year-on-year during Q1 2013.

Global mobile penetration was at 90% in Q1 2013 and mobile subscriptions now total around 6.4 billion. However, Ericsson noted that the actual number of subscribers is around 4.5 billion, since many people have several subscriptions.

The technology company pointed to continued strong momentum for smartphone uptake in all regions. Around 50% of all mobile phones sold in Q1 2013 were smartphones, compared to around 40% for the full year in 2012.

“Of all mobile phone subscriptions 20-25% are associated with smartphones, leaving considerable room for further uptake,” the group said.

The number of mobile broadband subscriptions grew even faster over this period at a rate of 45% year-on-year, reaching around 1.7 billion.

The amount of data usage per subscription also continued to grow steadily. Approximately 50% of all mobile phones sold in Q1 2013 were smartphones, Ericsson said.

Video traffic in mobile networks, meanwhile, is expected to grow by around 60% annually through to 2018.

Penetration percentageMobile devices

Mobile subscriptions are increasing for PCs, mobile routers and tablets that use larger screen sizes. They are expected to grow from 300 million in 2012 to around 850 million in 2018, exceeding the number of fixed broadband subscriptions, Ericsson said.

Total smartphone subscriptions reached 1.2 billion at the end of 2012 and are expected to grow to 4.5 billion in 2018.

“Smartphone penetration will increase rapidly, while it is estimated that subscriptions for basic phones will remain high, slowly declining from around 5 billion today, to around 4 billion in 2018. This is because a large part of the growth in subscriber numbers will come from the lower-end phone segment,” the tech group said.

Douglas Gilstrap, Senior Vice President and Head of Strategy at Ericsson, said: “LTE services will be available to about 60% of the world’s population in 2018. We expect LTE subscriptions to exceed 1 billion in 2017, driven by more capable devices and demand for data-intensive services such as video.

“Owing to the build out of WCDMA/HSPA, network speeds have improved, and so has the user experience.”

More on LTE and the Ericsson Mobility Report

Get ready for the mobile data boom – report

Global LTE revenues set to reach $1 trillion

Will SA mobile operators fall to the LTE curse?

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LTE’s staggering growth rate