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Global LTE connections exceeded 2.5 billion during last quarter

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© Flickr/cc-licence/Adam Fagen

  • Data from Ovum show LTE show reached 32% market share in Q3
  • LTE forecast to grow to 3.16 billion connections in 2018
  • On course to achieve 4.8 billion connections by the end of 2021
  • LTE market share stands at 73% in North America

New LTE connection data for the past third quarter has been released by research firm Ovum, via the 5G Americas trade association. They report that global LTE connections reached 2.5 billion at the end of the third quarter of 2017, an increase of 838 million new LTE subscriptions over the past twelve months. Global market share for LTE reached 32 per cent at the end of Q3, an increase of almost 10 percentage points in the twelve month period.

Worldwide, LTE is forecast to continue its momentum, growing to 3.16 billion connections in 2018, with a 41.6 per cent penetration and 38 per cent market share, making it the most dominant wireless technology globally. LTE remains on course to achieve 4.8 billion connections by the end of 2021 (which also includes M2M connections). At which time, LTE should account for 53 per cent market share, just in time for 5G to start its relentless march for market grab. In fact, Ovum predicts that 5G is forecast to reach 111 million connections by the end of 2021.

“Although the global wireless industry is working on preparations for 5G in the future, currently operators are deploying more advanced LTE capabilities, and LTE subscriptions are continuing to grow at a fantastic rate,” said Chris Pearson, President of 5G Americas. He adds that (according to data from TeleGeography) as of mid-November, there were 562 commercial LTE deployments worldwide, while 211 of those operators have already evolved to LTE-Advanced.

North America continues to lead LTE uptake

Obviously the Americas region is of most interest to 5G Americas, and it probably comes as no surprise that the North America continued to claim the dominant market position with an LTE market share of 73 per cent, accounting for 341 million LTE subscriptions by the end of September. That is equivalent to 94 per cent population penetration, and LTE is expected to pass 100 per cent during 2018. Compare that to Western Europe, which has a 42 per cent LTE penetration rate.

LTE is forecast to reach 456 million connections in North America by the end of 2021 (including M2M) against early competition from 5G, which is expected to account for 34.9 million 5G connections – nearly 31 per cent of all global 5G connections.

Latin America exhibited continued growth with market share for LTE increasing to 26 per cent. It almost doubled its LTE connections to 179 million from 99 million year-on-year in Q3. By the end of 2021, LTE is forecast to reach 458 million connections and claim a 59 per cent share of market

“LTE continues as the fastest growing mobile technology ever deployed in Latin America,” stated Jose Otero, Director of Latin America and the Caribbean, 5G Americas. “All countries in the region, except Cuba, have at least one LTE service provider. Actions by Latin American governments, such as granting new spectrum to mobile operators and approval of secondary spectrum market transactions, as well as spectrum re-farming by operators, have contributed to LTE’s healthy growth.”

As of mid-November, there were 108 commercial LTE networks across the Latin America and the Caribbean region of which 20 are LTE-Advanced deployments with Carrier Aggregation. “We are confident that the next step in network evolution will be an increase in the number of operators launching Carrier Aggregation to increase the speeds offered via their LTE networks,” added Otero.

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