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Global LTE subscriptions pass 1 billion for the first time – GSA

LTE handset VoLTE

Quarterly figures released by the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) have confirmed LTE subscriptions have passed 1 billion worldwide for the first time.

Growing at a rate of roughly 1.7 million per day, LTE or LTE-Advanced subscriptions grew by 156 million in Q4 2015. The GSA reckons the growth seen at the back end of last year outweighs 3G/HSPA adoption by a clear 75%; it is expected to continue outperforming the previous-gen cellular data platform and, in 2020, overtake the global number of 3G subscriptions.

In the past year, LTE subscriptions rose 552.2 million, accounting for a 107% annual growth. Asia, as expected, continues to be the largest single regional market globally with 54.3% of total LTE subscribers – roughly 580m. China is the dominant market in Asia, and across the world, growing by 84m to 386m subscriptions; while the USA stays in second place with 237m.

The fastest growth, proportionally, was seen in Latin America and the Caribbean – where LTE subscriptions more than quadrupled to 54m, according to the GSA’s numbers, which were provided by Ovum. The Middle East grew 110% to 32.5m LTE subscriptions, meanwhile.

LTE network deployment still isn’t slowing down, either, and the GSA forecasts the total number of global networks will grow another 15% to 550, up from 480 in 2015. LTE-A is still on the rise, too, with one in three global operators currently investing or in deployment. To date, 116 operators have commercially launched LTE-A, which is roughly 24% of all operators currently running an LTE network.

Elsewhere, the GSA has confirmed the creation of a new global spectrum working group. Featuring radio giants Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Nokia and Qualcomm, the group will, according to the GSA “contribute to the international and national spectrum work with the aim to actively participate in the ITE World Radiocommunication Conferences”. Despite the list of heavyweight contributors involved with the creation group, little further information exists at this point.

“The GSA Executive Committee recognise that spectrum discussions are of growing importance to the whole mobile industry, and indeed to broadband consumers,” said the GSA’s president, Joe Barrett. “Harmonising the use of global and regional spectrum removes uncertainty and encourages growth while new spectrum needs to be identified to meet the anticipated future mobile broadband capacity demands for new 5G services and use cases.”

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