4G LTE investments surge ahead, but mass usage doubtful

25 Aug 2010

An increasing number of mobile network operators are rolling out 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) investments in mobile. Yet by 2015 a mere one in 20 users will benefit from these new high-speed networks.

LTE 4G mobile networks will provide businesses and consumers with dramatically increased speeds and capacity to combat the effects of the mobile data traffic explosion such as network crashes.

However, only one in every 20 subscribers will benefit, a new study from Juniper Research has concluded.

With the rate of LTE network commitments at an all-time high, the 4G LTE report forecasts that the number of LTE mobile broadband subscribers will exceed 300 million globally by 2015.

Most of this growth will occur from 2012 but mobile operators are preparing now as rapidly increasing data traffic from mobile apps and mobile internet usage forces them to react.

Report author Howard Wilcox explained: “Although one in 20 globally is low overall, in fact our research found that usage levels will be significantly higher in other regions such as North America where it will be closer to one in five as major operators plan rollouts in the next six months.”

Hurdles ahead

Juniper’s extensive primary interview programme pinpointed several hurdles that LTE needs to overcome in order to succeed. For instance, LTE needs to avoid the mistakes of 3G and ensure that suitable devices are available when networks are launched.

LTE’s main markets will be the developed nations of North America, Western Europe, the Far East and China, which together will account for 90pc of the market by 2015.

The industry is looking for answers regarding new business models that will replace existing data plans.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years