MONTREAL, Canada, and MIAMI, Florida, March 13, 2012. At the end of Q4 2011, the worldwide LTE subscriber base nearly doubled in size over the previous quarter to reach 12.02 million subscribers worldwide, showing a rapid adoption of LTE at the expense of WiMAX, according to the 17th issue of the 4GCounts Quarterly Report from Maravedis. The quarter over quarter subscriber increase for LTE and WiMAX was 92% and 14% respectively over that reported at the end of Q3 2011.
At the end of 2011, 54 operators worldwide had launched LTE commercially, 19 during the quarter alone. An additional 224 major mobile operators had committed to launching the technology in the future, 193 of those with FDD-LTE and 31 with TD-LTE. "Maravedis anticipates that 469 million LTE subscribers will be active by 2016 of which 25% or 118 million will be TD-LTE users and the rest (75% or 350 million) will be FDD-LTE," said Cintia Garza, 4GCounts team leader.
The region where the most TD-LTE trials have been taking place during Q4 2011 is APAC with 18 operators trialing the technology, followed by Europe with 5 trials. "Although we have seen some commercial TD-LTE deployments happening in 2011 outside Asia, these deployments will not drive the substantial economies of scale expected from the larger deployments in China and India this year," said Basharat Ashai, co-author of the report.
In Q4 2011, NSN-Motorola and Huawei enjoyed the lion's share of awarded LTE contracts, with 26% and 23% respectively. Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) delivered the TD-LTE network and USB dongles for the commercial launch of SKY (Brazil), becoming the first TD-LTE network in Latin America. Huawei on its part had clinched about 41 LTE contracts in 2011. Alcatel-Lucent took 12% of the contracts, and the vendor is expected to land further LTE infrastructure contracts in Latin America, potentially in Chile, Colombia and Brazil.
The majority of LTE devices available today support the 700MHz band because the predominant LTE deployments are from US operators Verizon Wireless and AT&T, which operate in that band. "We believe, however, that the number of devices covered in the 2.6 GHz band will soon exceed the devices deployed in the 700MHz. The 2.6GHz has been widely allocated for mobile broadband across the world in both FDD and TD-LTE modes. We believe that multimode and multifrequency devices will gradually become the norm," said Cintia Garza, 4GCounts team leader.
THIS QUARTER'S SUMMARY FINDINGS:
- 2.6GHz, in combination with 800MHz and 1800MHz, will be the dominant bands for LTE deployments in the future
- Large volume production of TD-LTE handsets will not start until 2013
- BWA/WiMAX subscriber base will slowly reach 35 million at the end of 2016
- By 2016, smartphones and tablets will dominate the 4G device market, accounting for 55% and 15% of the total 4G device market share respectively
- The top 50 LTE operators reported a total installed base of 59,000 base station sectors at the end of Q4 2011, up from 37,000 base station sectors installed at the end of Q3 2011