The number of LTE subscribers has surpassed that of WiMAX subscribers, in South Korea, the United States, and Japan, reports market intelligence firm ABI Research.
“Japan, South Korea, and the United States used to have strong mobile WiMAX proponents, so while the momentum and future of WiMAX and LTE are clear, it is somewhat surprising to see how long the subscriber crossover has actually taken,” says research director Phil Solis. “In mid-2014, even subscribers to LTE in TDD mode will have surpassed WiMAX subscribers at which point WiMAX subscribers will begin their permanent, slow decline.”
TD-LTE subscriber growth is slow with only a handful of smaller mobile operators currently servicing active subscribers. This will greatly accelerate towards the end of 2013 and into 2014 when larger mobile operators with TDD spectrum start adding LTE subscribers – especially China Mobile.
LTE handsets are the primary LTE device for the foreseeable future capturing 77-percent of the LTE device market in 2011. LTE handsets will surpass 80-percent of device shipments during 2016. A few gating factors are holding back a potential explosion of non-handset LTE devices, but these are starting to get resolved and most of these factors will deteriorate over the next few years.
Two years ago ABI Research predicted the number of subscribers to mobile WiMAX services would approach 59 million in 2015. Oops.
There are currently 96 companies globally that provide LTE. Korea’s SK Telecom has the third largest LTE subscriber base in the world, behind Verizon in the United States and Japan’s NTT Docomo.
SK is the first to use Multi-Carrier LTE, using two spectrum bands, one at 850 MHz, the other at 1.8 GHz. It’s a feature of LTE Advanced. Multi-carrier support is available on the Vega Racer 2, the Galaxy S III LTE and (perhaps) the iPhone 5.